George Friend has praised Boro's ambition as the club prepare for a return to the Premier League. 

Victor Valdes joined Marten de Roon, Bernardo Espinosa and Viktor Fischer among the new arrivals at Rockliffe Park last week, while Jordan McGhee has also joined on a season-long loan.

"It shows the commitment of the chairman and the direction the club are going," Friend said.

"You can never doubt the chairman and what he's prepared to do for this club, bringing in players of that calibre.

"I think we'll continue to strengthen, so it will be interesting to see who else we bring in."

Friend feels that the stakes have been raised following Boro's promotion.

"Last season, competition was high we had a very good squad," he said.

"The manager's added quality I think it will be even tougher. 

"In training, everyone's going to be gunning for that position and I think we'll have two very good players in every position.

"If you want to be playing that first game against Stoke or any game in the season, you're going to have to play and train hard and well."

The defender played just over an hour on Saturday as Boro opened their pre-season campaign with a 6-0 win against York City and says he's now itching for a return to competitive action.  

"I've been watching the Euros thinking who we might play against [in the Premier League]," he said.

"It's just the best league, which everyone wants to play in. I can't wait, everyone's so excited. 

"I'm looking forward to that first game, I think the whole of Teesside is.