Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate insisted he still has the backing of his players after his struggling side earned a point at QPR.
Boro, third from bottom of the Sky Bet Championship and now without a win in nine matches, drew 2-2 at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, where Britt Assombalonga scored both their goals.
Woodgate’s squad has been ravaged by injuries but he was boosted by George Friend, Darren Randolph and Ashley Fletcher making themselves available to play despite not being fully fit.
Keeper Randolph, who was this week included in the Republic of Ireland squad, produced a string of excellent saves.
Woodgate said: “Randolph was out, George Friend was back in training but I didn’t think he’d be playing, Fletcher out – they come and knock on my door on Friday morning.
“They said, ‘Gaffer, I want to play. I’m not 100 per cent fit but I want to play for you’. That’s top.
“The situation we’re going through at the minute, it’s difficult and they could have taken the easy option and not played.
“Darren could have said, ‘I’m not 100 per cent, I want to wait for Ireland’. He played today. George Friend played after three training sessions. Ashley Fletcher had a calf strain and played.
“They want to play. They want to play for us. That was really positive. It shows what the players are like – they want to stick together and they want to play for me.
“For the situation we’re in, there’s no negativity. Everyone’s positive and that’s really important for me.”
Boro had not scored in their previous four matches and Assombalonga had only scored once since August.
But Woodgate said: “I’ve said all along that he will score goals.
“Every striker goes through patches and confidence dips. Stick with it. He’s a goalscorer.
“Stay confident because he will score goals. Back him no matter what. No matter what situation he’s going through, I back my number nine.”
Assombalonga headed in a first-half opener but Nahki Wells equalised and an own goal by Jonny Howson meant Rangers led at half-time.
But Boro were handed a lifeline midway through the second half when Wells’ appalling backpass went straight to Assombalonga, who took full advantage.
QPR manager Mark Warburton defended on-loan Burnley striker Wells, whose goal was his ninth of the season.
“It (the backpass) didn’t help but he’s also the man that’s scored a lot of goals for us and got us out of some sticky situations and he’s human,” Warburton said.
“If we take responsibility at the other end and put the ball in the back of the net then it relieves that burden and that (the backpass) is not the main talking point.
“Nahki is a top pro and he came straight into the dressing room and put his hand up for it, but for me it’s not about that – he’s human and you learn from your mistake and move on.
“But we should have put the ball in and been far more clinical in front of goal.
“We defend as a team and attack as a team and today we had a lot of possession in the second half in a good position at 2-1.
“What then happened, it happened, but how many chances did we have to put the ball in the net and didn’t do it?”
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