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Premier League quality to help Middlesbrough title bid

| 16.07.2012

With Jonathan Woodgate undoubtedly the biggest name, the recent addition of four high-profile players appears to stand Middlesbrough in good stead to challenge for this season’s Championship title at 16/1.

Former Real Madrid defender Woodgate, now 32, has fulfilled a dream by re-signing for his hometown club, and should he stay fit, will be feared by strikers throughout the division.

Woodgate’s pedigree is unparalleled in the Championship, and the eight-cap England international cited a desire to see his boyhood club return to the Premier League as motivation for signing at the Riverside Stadium once again.

He will be aided in his quest by Durham-born Stuart Parnaby, who returns to the club following a four-year absence.

Right-back Parnaby was a solid performer at Premier League level during his initial spell on Teesside, and will hope to recapture the sort of form that saw him start the UEFA Cup final during his last season as a Boro player.

Grant Leadbitter is the third North-East-born player to join Middlesbrough this summer meanwhile, with the former Sunderland man signing from Ipswich hoping to fill the void left by the departing Barry Robson.

Leadbitter is a goalscoring midfielder by trade, and having finished one campaign as Sunderland’s top scorer in the top flight, could chip in with vital strikes to contribute to a promotion push.

Add in the fact that the creative Emmanuel Ledesma has joined from Genoa, and things certainly look rosy for the Teesside outfit.

The 24-year-old joins on a three-year-deal, and will add to a squad that has now been largely assembled by current boss Tony Mowbray, who will be itching to prove himself in his first full season in charge at the Riverside.

His retention of players such as Premier League targets Rhys Williams and Marvin Emnes, who scored 18 times last season, will also bode well for the former West Brom chief, as will his experience of winning this division with Albion in the past.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.



John Klee