EMMANUEL LEDESMA will miss the start of the Championship season after breaking his metatarsal in training.
Ledesma suffered the injury during Middlesbrough's ongoing training camp in Marbella, and is set to miss the opening weeks of the new campaign.
The winger is expected to miss between three and five games as he completes his recovery, which will cause a headache to Boro boss Aitor Karanka.
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Mustapha Carayol has already been ruled out of the start of the season after damaging his knee towards the end of the last campaign, so Karanka, who watched his side lose 1-0 to Lucena in their opening match of pre-season, finds himself with his wide options severely limited ahead of the opener with Birmingham City on August 9.
The Spaniard still has Albert Adomah, who is on an extended period of leave after his World Cup exploits with Ghana, after Nottingham Forest failed with a bid to sign the winger, but the injuries to Carayol and Ledesma could pave the way for youngsters Adam Reach and Ryan Brobbel.
Both players spent a large chunk of last season out on loan, but they are part of Boro’s warm-weather training camp in Spain and could be given the chance to impress.
Reach produced a man-of-the-match display in Boro’s win over Barnsley in their final home game last season, while Brobbel returned from York City with glowing reports after impressing at Bootham Crescent.
Karanka hinted before the summer that he would give the club’s young stars a chance to break into the first-team having already given Ben Gibson the opportunity to impress.
The Boro head coach remains in the market for a striker, central midfielder and right-back after seeing Lukas Jutkiewicz complete his move to Premier League new boys Burnley.
The front man had attracted the interest of several Championship clubs after a productive loan spell at Bolton Wanderers, but the 25-year-old hopes to make a big contribution in the top flight.
“I’m delighted the deal got concluded so I could join up with the lads out here in Austria,” said Jutkiewicz.
“I’m looking forward to the season ahead and hopefully making a big contribution to the team.”
New striker Kike, who signed for £2.7m from Murcia this week, came off the bench to make his debut in Spain last night.
Lucena took a 38th minute lead through a Lopez free-kick, but Boro almost responded five minutes later when Luke Williams hit the post.
Williams was replaced by Kike just after the hour mark, but the Spaniard could not inspire a comeback as Boro went down by a single goal in their opening friendly.
Middlesbrough (first half): Konstantopolous, Morris, Ayala, Hines, Gibson, Smallwood, Leadbitter, Main, L Williams, Reach, Fewster.
(Second half): Mejias, Atkinson, Burgess, Woodgate, Friend; Whitehead, Butterfield; Brobbel, Tomlin, Halliday; L Williams (Kike, 64)