The squad will jet out to Portugal on Sunday for a week of warm-weather training, during which Garry Monk will take charge of his team for the first time with friendly matches against Oxford United and Chesterfield.

Now in the midst of his sixth pre-season as a Boro player, defender Friend knows the benefits it can bring for the months ahead.

“It doesn’t have to be somewhere like Portugal – when I was at Exeter we would go down to Cornwall. It’s about being together and working hard as a group.”

George Friend

“As the pre-seasons go by, you have to look after yourself a bit more,” he said.

“I think it’s been well documented that a lot of the lads went away and worked hard, and that helps you to hit the ground running.”

With Garry Monk in charge, Friend says it’s an important opportunity for the players to get to know their new manager, and what he wants and expects both on and off the pitch.

“Everyone has their own way of working,” he said.

“I remember at Wolves, Mick McCarty would run us a lot. I’ve seen what Tony Pulis makes his guys do out in Austria.

“This manager has his own philosophy, we work hard but his sessions are really organised and put over exactly how he wants us to play.

“I think that’s important, to implement it so early. The lads have been encouraged by it and hopefully the coaching staff have been encouraged by the way we’ve performed and the effort we’ve put in.”

Friend says that seven days in the Algarve will create a tighter unit within the Boro dressing room.

“It’s a change of scenery and an important part of pre-season,” he said.

“You room with someone, you eat your meals together, and you’re in and out of each other’s pockets for a week really.

“It doesn’t have to be somewhere like Portugal – when I was at Exeter we would go down to Cornwall.

“It’s about being together and working hard as a group.”