Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis has confirmed that full-back George Friend is in contention for a first-team recall after a spell out on the sidelines.
Pulis told the media on Friday that the experienced defender, who has been out of action since suffering a hamstring injury at Blackburn in February, is available for selection.
Fellow defender Aden Flint remains sidelined as he’s still recovering from the knee injury which he sustained while playing against Sheffield United last month.
“George has been back in training this week, and Flinty has come in at the back end as well,” the Boro boss said.
“They’re getting fit, whether or not they will make it tomorrow I don’t know.”
“It’s pleasing. Hopefully, by next week, we’ll have them both back and that makes for good competition for places.”
It has been a gruelling week for the Boro players as Pulis put them through their paces at Rockliffe to assess their fitness ahead of the business end of the Championship season.
Explaining his reasoning behind the training regime, Pulis said: “I’ve always done it.”
“Usually I do it with 15 games to go and have a good look at them for the back end (of the season), the final charge.”
“But they were smashing and they’ve trained well this week. There’s nothing that’s hit me, where I think, ‘I have to do this for him’.”
Apart from assessing the fitness of his players, Pulis specifically worked on set-piece routines in training to try and resolve an issue which has marred Boro’s attack this season.
Boro were expected to be a threat from free-kicks, corners, and throw-ins this season as their fans expected the forwards to make most of Ryan Shotton’s ball deliveries from the touchline.
However, as the last few months have gone on to show, Tony Pulis’ side has seldom scored from set pieces, a problem which Pulis vowed to address following a lacklustre draw at Wigan last weekend.
He said: “We have worked on quite a few things this week just to get the basics sorted out as much as anything else.”
"We have tough games coming up, everyone has. It is going to be a really exciting run in, the last 12 games."