MOST footballers will readily admit that they do not really relish pre-season. Lots of running, matches that don’t really mean anything, a counting down of the days until the real action begins. Generally, it is a period to be endured rather than enjoyed.

For Morgan Rogers, however, the last two or three weeks have felt like bliss. Throughout his senior career, Middlesbrough’s 20-year-old forward has never previously been able to spend a full pre-season at the club he knew he would be playing for in the following campaign.

In the summer of 2021, he started pre-season in Manchester City’s youth ranks but ended it having agreed a season-long loan with Bournemouth when the Cherries were a Championship club.

Last summer, his pre-season preparations involved swapping between Manchester City’s senior and youth ranks, and while he did not leave the Etihad on loan that summer, he was shipped out the following January, spending the second half of last term back in the Championship with Blackpool.

There was always a sense of uncertainty as the new campaign drew near, with clubs in regular contact over a possible loan move and Rogers’ name repeatedly appearing in the papers being linked with a variety of potential transfers.

This summer, things have been markedly different. Having made a permanent move to Middlesbrough at the start of this month, Rogers headed into pre-season knowing he was preparing for a full campaign on Teesside. As a result, the experience has been much more valuable and worthwhile than any of his previous summer spells.


“Since I became a professional, I’ve never had a proper pre-season with the team I ended up playing for that season,” said Rogers, who led the line as Boro suffered a 1-0 friendly defeat at the hands of La Liga side Real Betis at the weekend.

“I think that will definitely prove vitally important, just to get games and create connections with my new team-mates and get used to my surroundings and stuff like that.

“I think it’s helped me so far, and I think it will help us come the start of the season because we’ve pretty much all been together since the start of pre-season, or at least in Portugal (where Boro had a warm-weather training camp). We’ve all been together throughout as a squad, we’re getting to know each other, and I think that can only benefit us.”

Rogers is one of seven senior players to have signed for Middlesbrough so far this summer, and aside from the goalkeeping duo of Seny Dieng and Jamie Jones, the signings have all fitted the template of young, relatively unproven players with development potential that Boro’s recruitment team are clearly trying to follow.

Michael Carrick proved his willingness to put a lot of faith in youngsters last season, championing Hayden Hackney’s cause at the heart of midfield and regularly fielding Aaron Ramsey and Cameron Archer during their loan spells from Aston Villa, and the head coach’s desire to develop young players was a key factor in Rogers’ decision to head to Teesside when a host of other clubs were also keen to acquire his services.

“That’s his (Carrick) philosophy really, building a young squad and giving players a chance,” said Rogers. “You could see that from last year. He’s been really keen to give players a chance, even though they’re young, and obviously I know a few of them who have benefited from that.

“They’ve said nothing but positive things about him, and if you’re good enough, you’ll play. It’s nothing to do with age or experience necessarily.

“We’ve got experienced players in the team, which helps and guides us, but we’re youthful and we all want to help and improve. We’re all in it together, with one goal and one aspiration. We can get the job done.”