Carayol will definitely miss the start of Middlesbrough's pre-season training

INJURY BLOW: Mustapha Carayol's cruciate injury will keep him out of the start of Middlesbrough's pre-season programme

INJURY BLOW: Mustapha Carayol's cruciate injury will keep him out of the start of Middlesbrough's pre-season programme

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

MIDDLESBROUGH’S medical staff are resigned to Mustapha Carayol not being available for the vast majority of the pre-season programme.

However, Rhys Williams should be fit to link up with the rest of his team-mates when the Boro squad reconvene at the end of June.

Carayol damaged his anterior cruciate ligaments in the closing stages of March’s goalless draw at Bournemouth, and underwent surgery to repair the problem at the start of last month.

The operation went well, but the winger is still to begin light training and faces at least two more months on the sidelines before he can even begin to consider stepping up his work routine.

He has been given time off for a brief end-of-season holiday, and will return to Rockliffe Park ahead of his team-mates to continue his recuperation with Boro’s coaches.

However, he will not be available for the start of pre-season training, and might not even have started full outdoor work by the time the new Championship campaign begins on August 9.

“Unfortunately, we don’t expect Muzzy to be ready for when we return to training,” confirmed head coach Aitor Karanka. “He will miss a chunk of that training.

“It has been tough for Muzzy to have such a serious injury, but I am in contact with him every week and he is stronger each time I speak to him.

“His mentality is stronger each day. He will have a bit of a break now because he has been working very hard and he needs a change of scene, but after that, he will return here to rehab.”

Williams’ position is more positive as the defender is much closer to completing his own recovery from a serious Achilles problem.

The 25-year-old had previously hoped to return to action before the end of the season in the hope of forcing his way into the Australia squad for this summer’s World Cup finals.

That did not happen, and while his name was included in the provisional squad released by Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou last month, there is no chance of Williams making it on to the plane to Brazil.

He should be fit by next month though, and will play a full part in Boro’s pre-season schedule, which should be finalised within the next fortnight.

“Rhys should be fit for the start of pre-season,” said Karanka. “His recovery is coming along very well and we are happy with where he is in terms of his fitness. He should be able to join up with everyone when we all come back to start the preparations for next season.”

* David Atkinson has signed a one-year extension to his Middlesbrough contract to ensure he will remain at the Riverside next season.

The 21-year-old, who is from Shildon, forced his way into the first-team squad to become an unused substitute in nine matches in the closing months of the campaign.

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