FABIO da Silva has returned to training with Middlesbrough this morning, just in time for him to fight to keep his place against Sunderland on Sunday.

Boro are looking to build on back-to-back victories by winning at the Riverside for the first time since September and Fabio had to be withdrawn early in Tuesday’s victory at Hull through illness.

George Friend slotted in and performed solidly at the KCOM Stadium and will be disappointed to miss out again and Garry Monk, the Middlesbrough manager, knows he has a decision to make.

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"Fabio has been back in today after the bug he had,” said Monk. “So we will monitor over the next couple of days before deciding on the team to face Sunderland.”

Monk also revealed striker Rudy Gestede has been running on the grass this morning after building up his fitness work ahead of a return to action. He will not return until after the visit of Sunderland.

Middlesbrough know that the task of beating the Black Cats has changed because of Simon Grayson’s departure. Robbie Stockdale, a former Middlesbrough player, will be leading Sunderland along with Billy McKinlay.

Monk said: “We understand the magnitude of the game, a derby will always be a derby. In terms of preparation, the key is that. We have to focus on ourselves and not them.

"Derby games are always difficult. They will come to us and we have to match it. A full house for us and we will look to continue the little run we have started. Our fight has to be greater than theirs.

“As a fellow manager, someone I know, I understand how difficult the pressures are and how hard managers work. Simon is one of the best at that. When you see a fellow colleague lose his job when you feel he was the right man to do it, then you feel for him.

“I felt it was harsh. They have a very good squad, you do think they should be much higher than where they are. It’s about expressing the sympathy for him and I think he needed time and unfortunately he didn’t get it.

“The stick you get is part of the job. You have to trust what you are doing and give that confidence to the players, whatever moments you are in. That’s what we have done and I have complete trust in them and that has started to come through.”