LOAN defender Kevin McNaughton says hard work on the training ground and familiarity at the back is the key to the Wanderers defence clicking since his arrival.

The 31-year-old has impressed since joining from Premier League side Cardiff City in September and boss Dougie Freedman had no hesitation in extending his stay until the new year.

He was part of an unchanged backline alonsgide in-form central pairing Matt Mills and Tim Ream and summer signing Alex Baptiste for the seventh consecutive game at Watford, something he believes is a key factor in why he has yet to taste defeat in Wanderers’ colours.

McNaughton said: “The more you play together, the more you pick up from your partners.

“Millsy has been brilliant. The amount he wins in the air makes my life so much easier.

“For me the two centre halves are working so well together and that makes my job so much easier. Lonners (Andy Lonergan) has come in and done brilliantly as well.

“I think it’s just the hard work on shape, because we work a lot on shape. It’s just the organisational side of things.

“The second half against Watford highlighted that – we conceded a lot of possession but they never looked like scoring.

“They put a few dangerous balls into the box and a few shots in from outside the box but I thought we had the best chances.

“It’s clicking. And when that happens you start moving up in this league.”

McNaughton is the first to admit it may not be the flair-filled football Whites fans want to see at present, but is just focusing on extending the unbeaten run at Middlesbrough on Saturday.

He believes winning in any shape or form is a good habit to get into.

The Scottish defender added: “When I was at Cardiff last season we probably didn’t play the most attractive brand of football but we found a way to win.

“That’s what we are doing right now.

“It’s a great habit to have but it could easily go the other way in this league, the margins are that fine and we know how cruel this league can be.”

McNaughton is likely to be part of that same defence for an eighth game running on Teesside at the weekend after surprisingly returning at Watford after just two weeks out with a hamstring strain – a fortnight earlier than the club had stated following the Millwall home clash.

He says it was a big call but he felt ready and, after a discussion with Freedman on Thursday, he left the decision to the boss.

McNaughton was thankful to have been given the nod, however.

He said: “I spoke to the gaffer on Thursday and he was obviously worried because I’d come back pretty quick.

“But to be honest it was one of those where it felt so good that I just said let me train for a couple of days and make your decision from there. “Then I found myself on the bus and was pleased to play and feel okay.”