Middlesbrough FC will be without George Boateng for up to two months as the influential midfield player recovers from a broken toe.
The 29-year-old sustained the injury in Saturday's 3-0 Premiership victory against former club Aston Villa FC, and is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks. "It's a major blow," said Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren. "It's going to really test us [over the festive period] with four games in ten days. But each time this team has surprised me and come through and we need them to do that again."
Boateng joins Spanish international midfield player Gaizka Mendieta, among others, on Middlesbrough's injury list, and McClaren admitted absentees have hit the UEFA Cup contenders hard. "We're very light now," he said. "But we've done it before, we've missed Mendieta and [Ugo] Ehiogu for a long while and others have stepped in.
"We've got a couple of players coming back," McClaren continued. "Ugo Ehiogu and Malcolm Christie are training again and Stuart Parnaby could be soon." The English side face Grazer AK in the UEFA Cup Round of 32, with Boateng hoping to be fit by the first leg in Austria on 16 February.
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