Defender ready to return
Former Middlesbrough skipper Matthew Bates is set to return to training as he continues his recovery from another setback.
The luckless defender suffered a cruciate ligament injury for the fifth time in his career back in March but is now ready to make his comeback by training with the youth team.
Bates, 25, actually became a free agent at the end of June but Boro manager Tony Mowbray was always willing to allow him to continue his rehabilitation at the club's Rockliffe Park training ground.
"Matthew was at the stage a week or so ago where he was asking if he could train with the young players," Mowbray told the Northern Echo. "He is at the point where he is just about ready to go again.
"He is ready for physical contact again, small-sided games, so in the next day or so there is no problem for us to facilitate that for him," he continued. "The days we are not preparing for a game, doing team work, he could train with us. It's great news for him."
Mowbray has never ruled out a possible return to the club for the Stockton-born defender but believes it is still much too early to discuss his future.
"There's more than just my opinion in what Matthew wants to do," he added. "He is very much his own man and he will have his own ideas where he wants his football career to go."