Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate has confirmed full-back Anfernee Dijksteel has returned to full training – whilst Daniel Ayala, Dael Fry remain sidelined ahead of the game with Barnsley.
Boro, who have been riddled with a number of defensive injuries this campaign, come off the back of a 1-0 defeat to Luton Town last-time out, and will be hoping the timely recovery of a number of players will steer them away from the Championship’s relegation zone.
Woodgate was handed a boost last weekend when defenders Ryan Shotton and captain George Friend returned to the matchday squad ahead of their comeback from injuries.
Defender Dijksteel is also expected to be close to returning fitness after sustaining a knee injury in November. The Danish full-back has only featured 13 times since his arrival from Championship counterparts Charlton Athletic, but is now back in full training.
Middlesbrough are also without Ayala and midfielders Fry and Patrick Roberts, who are expected to be out for another few weeks.
Speaking to Boro TV, Woodgate said: “Dijksteel has been back in training, and we’ll look to get him in 70 minutes in a friendly next week.
“Ayala is still three or four weeks away, Dael [Fry] probably four weeks as well, we’re not expecting them back anytime soon.
“I don’t want to put any pressure or a timescale on Patrick Roberts but he is doing really well.”
The return of George Friend and Ryan Shotton will give Woodgate’s side the defensive reinforcement they need ahead of a physical test this weekend against bottom of the table Barnsley.
Despite a nine point gap separating the two sides before kick-off, Barnsley’s recent 3-0 triumph over promotion-chasing Fulham will give the teams around them something to think about.