Striker Rudy Gestede stakes his claim for a festive return to Middlesbrough’s first team by netting a double in last night’s 4-0 friendly success at Darlington.
Boro manager Garry Monk fielded nine players who have featured in the senior team this term against the National League North outfit.
Former Aston Villa and Blackburn forward Gestede was the stand-out for Boro, bagging a double inside six minutes, while later striking an acrobatic overhead kick against the frame of the goal.
He finished off a left-wing cross past on-loan Sunderland keeper Michael Woud for an early opener then got on the end of a well-played through ball to quickly make it 2-0.
Gestede was also involved in the third goal on 31 minutes. Lewis Wing fired against the Darlington bar and Gestede saw his effort, on the rebound, blocked before ex-Seaham Red Star flier Wing capitalised to finish off.
Boro added a fourth goal before the break, with summer signing Marvin Johnson showing his speed to get clear to score with ease.
Wood made a fine second-half stop to deny Enes Mahmutovic a fifth goal for the visitors.
Boro are back in Sky Bet Championship action on Saturday with a tough trip to Sheffield Wednesday.
Monk’s inconsistent side then face successive home matches against Bolton (Boxing Day) and Aston Villa (December 30) and a New Year’s Day visit to Preston North End prior to the FA Cup third round derby against Championship rivals Sunderland on January 6.