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Pogatetz chooses Middlesbrough over Austria trip

Manu Pogatetz has snubbed an invite from Austria to continue his fitness training at Middlesbrough.

"I'm staying here," the defender revealed to the Evening Gazette. "I got the invitation to join up with the Austria squad but because of the two-match ban I could not play the games and after talking with the coach we decided it would be better for me to concentrate on reaching full fitness.

"To be considered for international selection again is a big boost for me," he said.

"I have had a bad injury and lost my place for Austria but I know now that if I keep working and if I am playing first team football for Boro then it can still be there for me.

"Suddenly it all looks brighter for me. Things can transform quickly in football. There are ups and downs. I was Player of the Year at Boro and playing for Austria.

"Then suddenly I was out of the international team and injured - but I still had that belief and continued to work hard and now I can see the rewards.

"I have worked hard in the gym for long hours and have been able to get back two months sooner than expected.

"It is fantastic to be back playing but I need to get fitter and stronger so it is better for me and for Boro if I spend this international break working even more on those things.

"Although I have missed the start of the season and it has been very difficult, if I can get back to full fitness and play a lot of games for Boro then this can still be a great season for me.

"I think with Boro we can start to win games and climb the table and with Austria I can be back playing for the national team and, of course, I can play in the European Championships."

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