Boro played an 11v11 game at the Riverside last weekend, and followed that with a friendly at Newcastle United’s training complex on Tuesday lunchtime. 

Woodgate’s squad were edged out 3-2 by the Premier League side, but it was a valuable exercise for players getting more minutes on the pitch.

“Listen, I want to win every game no matter what it is, but the biggest thing is for players to gain in match fitness,” said Boro’s head coach.

“They’ve all worked tremendously hard on their fitness during lockdown and since they have returned to training, but none of that can actually prepare you for playing games.

“Minutes on the pitch are the most important thing at this moment. A lot of the players now have two lots of 60 minutes under their belts which is what we wanted, and we’ll have another opportunity build on that further.

“We’ve just over a week to go before we re-start again now, and the focus next week will be on that first game back against Swansea.”

Boro kick off against Swansea on Saturday June 20 and follow that with a trip to Stoke the weekend after. From then on in, though, it becomes a sprint to the finish line with two games a week for the remainder of the campaign.

“We will have to manage things carefully,” said Woodgate. 

“We’ve got some lads in the squad who have come back from injury and haven’t played in a while so we’ll have to take care and assess things as we go along.

“That situation isn’t unique to us. Every club is in the same boat, so we’re all on a level playing field in that respect.”