Middlesbrough's Woodgate returns to training

Middlesbrough and England defender Jonathan Woodgate is back in training as he attempts to prove his fitness for the start of the new season.

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The 27-year-old underwent surgery on his damaged knee cartilage a day after the end of the last campaign, and although he will not be ready for the club's first pre-season games, he is hopeful of making the opening Premier League fixture against Blackburn on August 11.

Woodgate is not alone as he goes through his paces at the club's Rockliffe Park training headquarters with £6million signing Robert Huth and full-back Andrew Taylor also back before the rest of their team-mates.

Assistant boss Malcolm Crosby told the club's official website: "It is great to see the three players making good progress after their various operations or injuries.

"They are all easing their way back with various rehabilitation programmes.

"We are looking forward to welcoming back most of the others on Monday ahead of our training camp in Austria from July 9.

"We are completing preparations and plans for pre-season as we start the build-up towards what we feel can be a very good season."

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