JONATHAN WOODGATE has urged Middlesbrough’s fans to give Rudy Gestede a break because he wants to keep using the former Aston Villa striker in the Championship this season.

Gestede has come under fire from the Boro boo-boys already this season and he was jeered after being replaced on the hour after an ineffectual display in the Carabao Cup defeat to Crewe last week.

After missing the trip to Blackburn through injury, Gestede was then given an unwanted reception from sections of fans on Tuesday night when he was introduced as a late substitute during the 1-0 win over Wigan.

Given the transfer window has now closed for Middlesbrough to bring in more new faces, Woodgate knows he is short of attacking options so Gestede is the experienced alternative option to Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher in attack.

There is every chance the 30-year-old will be introduced again against Millwall this afternoon, and Woodgate thinks the Middlesbrough fans are going to have to get used to seeing more of him.

Woodgate said: “It didn’t really matter what the fans did when he was coming on because he was coming on. He has a big part to play. I heard the booing. It is terrible when you boo one of your own players.

“I am a Middlesbrough fan and I would never boo a player. I would boo a team if I didn’t see them working. It didn’t deter me from picking him because I knew I needed to change it.”

He added: “Rudy will have been affected by it. He is a good lad and he has been good with the group. I can’t complain about any of them really. Like you see when I brought them on the other night, Rudy was ready to go.

“He sprinted over when I called him, even when he got that against Crewe and that is not nice for anyone to experience. It affects confidence but I rely on him."

Woodgate continued: “Firstly, he won’t be happy because he is not playing, but I want fans to get back on his side, he is a Middlesbrough player and the squad is thin, we need every single player. There is no good in barracking players when I need every single one.”

Woodgate was otherwise pleased with the way supporters stayed behind the team against Wigan and that ultimately resulted in watching a first competitive win under him.  He was full or praise for the three substitutes he used in that game and he knows the only other attacking alternative to Gestede is promising young gun Walker.

But he was encouraged by the reaction of the supporters on a night when Middlesbrough were far from entertaining, and they made plenty of mistakes but still ended up on the losing side.

He said: “I thought there was a moment in the game where we gave about six balls away in the space of ten minutes and I was pulling every single hair out of my head.

“I was thinking, ‘oh my God, fans please just stay with this a bit’. Because we were giving the ball away and I was thinking, ‘just relax lads, just relax’. But the fans stayed with us and we got that goal and then were alright then.

“But there was a time when I was thinking, ‘keep the ball, keep the ball’. But they were just giving it straight back. The fans stayed with it and were really good.

“At times I don’t mind if they really boo because there are going to be times (when they do) but don’t do it to individual players, please just don’t do it to individual players, it’s not fair and it’s not right.”

Another player who has had a difficult period since moving to Middlesbrough is George Saville. He comes up against his former club Millwall today knowing he is yet to live up to his £7m price-tag. He has, though, rarely been able to play in his preferred role.

“I’m not sure why but I’m sure it will because Sav’s a good player,” said Woodgate. “That’s probably why Paddy McNair’s playing so well, because he knows Saville is behind him ready take his place if he drops his level or Wing drops his level. They know for a fact that Saville is ready to come in and play.

“He’s an eight, he’s not a holder, he’s an eight. How many holders do you see scoring ten goals, so that tells you it all. If you look at his stats at Millwall he played in a two but he was the one who always got box-to-box. He’s a box-to-box player who will get you goals.

“He has played all over maybe because of the squad imbalance from our team. With the centre-halves getting injured he had to play wing-back or he had to play in a holding role or an advanced role. He’s a clever enough player to do that, George.”

But Woodgate thinks Saville, a former Chelsea player, has the right character to succeed on Teesside and he will be ready when he gets his chance.

He said: “He’s been really good, really good. I had a chat with him the other day just to tell him to keep on going. His attitude has been incredible, especially with the players who are playing, he’s constantly spurring them on in the dressing room, he wants them to do well.

“He hasn’t been knocking on my door but I can see he’s disappointed that he’s not playing and rightly so. His attitude on the training pitch and in the dressing room before games – he really wants us to do well.

“I don’t think there was any bids for him in the summer, there were obviously teams sniffing around him because he’s a good player. We have a lot of options in that area of the pitch with Paddy McNair, Lewis Wing, Jonny Howson, Sav, Marcus Tavernier, Adam Clayton as your one holder, so he’s just got to fight for his place.” Saville is likely to start on the bench against his old club today.