George Friend: Everyone is together

I’m excited to be a Birmingham player there.

George Friend

George Friend is looking to get one over his former club on Saturday as Blues visit Middlesbrough in the Sky Bet Championship.

Following first team training on Thursday, Friend took time to speak with the press via Zoom about coming up against familiar faces and how the team are looking to kick on together in 2021.

Blues travel to Middlesbrough for a lunchtime kick-off in front of the Sky Sports cameras, with the 33-year-old available for selection to take on the club he represented across eight years for the first time as a Blues player.

The defender missed December’s loss to Boro but, having watched on from the sidelines at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium, believes the defeat can be used as extra motivation on Teesside this weekend.

Reflecting on the last game before Christmas, he said: “I don’t think it was a 4-1 game. There were a few fine margins and finer points in that game that could have changed it and I was feeling for the lads.

“Middlesbrough deserved the win, but as a Birmingham player you can use it as motivation on Saturday for sure."

Aitor Karanka’s first signing as Blues Head Coach continued in his discussion of the opposition but was keen to stress that any feelings of fondness for Boro dissipate when he crosses the white line.

He said: “It’s a great place to go and play football and I’m excited to be a Birmingham player there.

And although the Riverside Stadium will be all but empty for his return, the promotion winner with Middlesbrough in 2016 is acutely aware of his privilege to be playing elite sport in 2021.

He explained: “It’s disappointing that there aren’t going to be any fans there. I thought at the start of the season that there might be a couple of thousand in there under the old rules but there’s worse things happening at the moment and there will be an opportunity I’m sure.”

Blues’ 24th league game marks the beginning of the campaign’s second-half and Friend revealed that a collaborative team meeting, attended by all players and coaches, outlined the targets from now until the end of the season.

He told the press: “We are halfway through, we looked at how the season has been so far and wanting to improve in the second-half of the season. We gladly accept that challenge and we want to do something about it – not just talk about it. We want to show we can do it. Everyone is together and is all on board.

“We had a meeting and the challenge is to now improve on the first-half of the season. You can either hide in your shell or stick your chest out and embrace it. That’s what we’re looking to do. Hopefully, it starts with a win on Saturday.”