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Bates: I never gave up on Middlesbrough comeback

Middlesbrough defender Matthew Bates hopes he's seen the end of his knee problems.

Bates is back after eight months on the sidelines and is eager to fulfill the predictions of Boro coach Colin Cooper which had him being compared with Real Madrid star Fabio Cannavaro.

"I never gave up, never thought I wouldn't make it back," he told the Sunday Sun.

"It's happened to other players - Wes Brown did his knees three times I think, and when I was at Norwich I spoke to (former Newcastle midfielder) Matty Pattison, who did his same knee twice. I knew I'd always get back, I never doubted myself.

"Now I'm just determined to get back in and prove myself. I don't feel I'm lacking in anything that I had before, I'm exactly the same player but better for the things I've been through.

"I'm a lot stronger now, mentally. I don't take things for granted, whereas perhaps I did before.

"In eight months out you get a lot of time to think about your life - things in general, not just football - and it's made me a stronger person. I work harder now in training, and I just want to be the best player I can be."

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