GEORGE FRIEND will undergo surgery next week to try to resolve the long-standing thigh injury that has ruined his start to the season.

Friend damaged his adductor tendons in April’s 3-1 defeat at Swansea City and was forced to sit out the final few weeks of last season as Middlesbrough missed out on a place in the play-offs.

He spent most of the summer recuperating, and was only able to play a limited role in Boro’s pre-season schedule, but returned to action in last month’s Carabao Cup defeat to Crewe Alexandra.

He also started the league defeat at Blackburn Rovers, but was forced off before full-time at Ewood Park after complaining of further pain in his thigh and hip area.

A series of consultations have revealed some remaining damage, and he will have an operation next week to repair some scar tissue damage that is continuing to pose a problem.

The surgery is relatively minor, but it will inevitably prolong his spell on the sidelines and he is currently unable to provide a date for a possible return to full training.

“I’m still not quite right,” said Friend, said who was appointed as Middlesbrough’s new club captain following Jonathan Woodgate’s promotion to the head coach role in the summer. “I need a little bit longer to recover.

“I was hoping to be back around this time, the international break, but I’m having a small procedure next week to clear up a bit of scar tissue. That should stand me in good stead to be ready for the rest of the season.

“In terms of a time frame (for getting back), I’m not quite sure yet, so I can’t say anything on that, but I think that will clear it up and get me on the right track.”

Having become such an influential performer since joining Middlesbrough from Doncaster Rovers in the summer of 2012, Friend is understandably frustrated at his lack of involvement in the opening month of the season.

His spell on the sidelines has coincided with the start of Woodgate’s reign, and while he has continued to exert a considerable influence in the dressing room, he has been unable to make much of an impression on the pitch.

With his fellow left-back, Hayden Coulson, also having been struggling with injury, and Dael Fry only just returning from a lengthy lay-off of his own, Woodgate’s defensive resources have been stretched, but Friend is hoping next week’s operation will bring his own problems to an end.

“To have something carry over from last season has been tough,” he said. “To not have a pre-season, I came in for those two games (against Crewe and Blackburn), but it wasn't quite right.

“Hopefully, this will get me right. It's not a brand-new procedure, the doctors have consulted the specialists and it's relatively routine.”

Friend was speaking at the opening of the MFC Foundation’s new East Cleveland outreach centre in Loftus.

The 31-year-old has long been a passionate supporter of the football club’s charitable arm, and regards its move into East Cleveland as an important and positive development.

“Every time I get involved with anything to do with the MFC Foundation, the work they do is just superb,” said Friend. “I always knew they reached out to everywhere on Teesside, but to come out here and have such an impact on East Cleveland is great.

“They’ve obviously identified it as an area that’s perhaps been neglected in the past, and it’s great for the area to know that the football club are thinking of them and are here to support them."