RHYS WILLIAMS faces further time on the sidelines with no specific date set on his return after missing the first training session of pre-season yesterday.

The Australian, who ruptured his Achilles in January at Wigan, is being monitored and treated carefully in his rehabilitation and will not be rushed back for training ground contact when there are still doubts over his fitness.

Boro boss Aitor Karanka hopes Williams will be fit enough to take some part in a pre-season friendly or two before the new Championship campaign starts at home to Birmingham City on August 9.

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But for now Williams has been told to focus on making progress after his setback, after Karanka had spoken at the end of last season of his hopes the Aussie would be available again to start training this week.

Williams suffered the blow of having to miss his second World Cup in a row through injury, having missed the 2010 finals in South Africa because of a pelvic problem.

Following the departures of Jozsef Varga, Frazer Richardson and Stuart Parnaby, centre-back Williams is cover to fill in at right-back for whoever Karanka lands in the coming weeks.

But he is back to the drawing board in his search to replace Varga, after rejecting the chance to sign him from Debrecen for £600,000 in May at the end of his season-long loan.

While returning to try to do a deal for Varga remains an option, Boro were pushing ahead with plans to land Real Betis full-back Juanfran.

A fee of around £600,000, potentially rising to £2m, had been agreed for the former Spanish Under-21 international and he is thought to have agreed personal terms last week.

However, after taking time to mull over his options, Juanfran has opted against the move. Genoa and Chievo are also keen on Juanfran.

Karanka, pictured below, put his squad members through their paces for the first time this summer yesterday afternoon rather than the traditional morning session. With the exception of Albert Adomah, who is on World Cup duty, the players expected to be in attendance were there.

The Northern Echo:

That meant striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, who continues to be linked with a move away from the Riverside, was there, although Dutchman Marvin Emnes was a notable absentee. Swansea City are due to formally confirm his £1.4m transfer soon.