JONATHAN WOODGATE is confident Ben Liddle will go on to bigger and better things after the youngster became the latest Middlesbrough player to commit his long-term future to the club.

Liddle has signed a new two-and-half year contract with the Teessiders, with the option of a further year, and follows fellow academy products Hayden Coulson, Marcus Tavernier and Djed Spence in penning a new deal at Rockliffe Park.

The Chester-le-Street 21-year-old, who is the son of Middlesbrough academy boss and former Darlington manager, Craig, joined Scunthorpe United on a season-long loan last week.

He made his first Boro appearance at Leeds in November, and his first senior start in last month’s FA Cup replay at Tottenham, and will hope to impress playing in League Two for the remainder of the campaign.

Woodgate encouraged him to go out on loan in order to further his footballing development, and is delighted to have tied down another of Boro’s talented youngsters to a long-term deal.

“It’s great to get another of our young players signed up for the future,” said Woodgate, who is busy completing his preparations for tomorrow’s Championship game at Brentford. “After coming back for pre-season, Ben knew he had a lot of work to do, and he’s really knuckled down and done very well.

“He earned himself the right to be involved with the first team, and did well when he came on at Leeds and against Tottenham.

“The loan move will give him the opportunity to continue his development now by playing regular competitive football, and he will come back here next summer benefiting from the experience.”

Woodgate is set to name Harold Moukoudi and Ravel Morrison in his matchday squad at Griffin Park, with the deadline-day signings due to be part of the first-team group that will travel to London today.