Huth, Pogatetz return to Middlesbrough action

Middlesbrough defenders Manu Pogatetz and Robert Huth are nearing first team returns.

Pogatetz played the full 90 minutes in Tuesday night's 2-1 reserve team defeat by Manchester United and was joined in the starting line-up by fellow long-term absentee Huth.

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Pogatetz told the Evening Gazette: "I am happy. It was my first 90 minutes for a long time and I felt really comfortable.

"My knees are fine. There is no problem with my fitness and I feel I am there now.

"Maybe I will be on the bench for Bolton and maybe I can travel with the squad. I have had three weeks of football and loads of fitness work and I cannot wait to get back.

"It is in the gaffer's hands, but if he wants me, I am ready. It is a tough time for the team at the moment - that's why I am pushing to get back and I am ahead of schedule."

Huth's return to fitness is another welcome bonus with the 23-year-old German international having managed only 14 senior appearances for the club since his £6million switch from Chelsea in August last year.

His latest return - he played an hour on Tuesday night - comes after ankle surgery and while he is desperate to make himself available to Southgate, he will not be pushed too soon.

Assistant manager Malcolm Crosby told the club's website: "Rob's had bad luck with injuries, that's all you can put it down to.

"But let's hope he has got over that injury he has had. He has been training of late and doing a lot of work with me and he is looking okay at the minute."

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