Middlesbrough have been handed a fresh injury blow with the news that George Friend could be out of action until February.
The club captain has been out of action for most of the season with an abductor injury, but made a surprise return in the clash with Queens Park Rangers earlier this month.
However the full-back has since picked up a thigh injury which is thought to be a knock-on effect of the previous injury.
At the weekend Jonathan Woodgate said that the club would need to investigate his new injury, but speaking to the press ahead of the clash with Barnsley, the Boro boss confirmed that it was an injury that would keep him out until after the New Year.
He said: “We took our time with George but it was a snowball effect, and in a sense it was unavoidable because of that.
“George is hugely disappointed, but he’ll still be here every day with the players, giving it his all.
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“He’s a positive lad, and it’s more mental than physical, the aspect that you have to get right at this stage of recovery.
“But looking on the bright side, it’s an opportunity for someone else, Jonny Howson was there on the right hand side of the defence on Sunday and I thought he was outstanding. He’s a very clever player.”
The news of George Friend’s injury setback is a huge blow.
Middlesbrough are in need of leaders as they look to get themselves out of a potential relegation battle and Friend’s absence will not be good news.
The hope will now be that someone else is able to step up and replace his influence on the pitch.