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Boro keep Friend close with new deal

Middlesbrough defender George Friend has signed a new four-year contract that will keep him with the Premier League newcomers until 2020.

Friend, who joined from Doncaster Rovers in 2012, follows Daniel Ayala in agreeing a fresh deal at the Riverside Stadium – the former Liverpool centre-back penning extended terms last Friday.

After being named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year for the past two seasons, Friend is expected to start Boro's top-flight opener at home to Stoke City on Saturday.

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"Committing to the Boro for another four years is because of so many things – a fantastic chairman, a brilliant manager and staff, great teammates, absolutely amazing fans and a beautiful area in which to live," the 28-year-old left-back told Middlesbrough's official website.

"I am very grateful and thankful to everyone who has encouraged and supported me. What I can promise in return is to continue to try to give 100 per cent commitment to the club. 

"My grandfather taught me many things, one of which was to play every match with the same energy and focus as if I was playing in the world's biggest stage.

"This is what I've always tried to do from the beginning of my career to now, as we stand on the threshold of the Premier League.

"In my eyes the Riverside is the best and biggest stage and to be given the opportunity to extend that privilege is everything."

Aitor Karanka has been busy in the transfer market this close season, with his new recruits including former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes and Valencia duo Antonio Barragan and Alvaro Negredo.