JONNY HOWSON faces some time on the sideline along with George Friend after the two Middlesbrough players underwent surgery on Tuesday.

The two experienced heads in the Boro dressing room will now be given the necessary time to recover and there will not be a timescale put on their recovery.

It is hoped Howson will be back in action sooner from the hernia issue. He had started the season well before missing the draw at Bristol City before the international break.

It is normally suggested such an operation means a lay-off of between four-to-six weeks, although footballers can tend to recover more quickly.

Friend’s problem has been more troublesome. The club captain confirmed last week he was set for an operation in a bid to finally fix an adductor injury that has hampered him since the end of last season. He has a ruptured tendon now, it has been confirmed.

The pair’s absence is clearly a blow to Middlesbrough at a time when head coach Jonathan Woodgate is having to turn to youth in a bid to turn the club around.

Summer signings Anfernee Dijksteel and Marc Bola both have the chance to have a run in the team at full-back now, while Woodgate is hoping promising Hayden Coulson will be back to compete for a left-back slot soon.

Spanish defender Dani Ayala has resumed training and will be available to face Reading and his experience will be important given the absences of Friend and Howson in the coming weeks. Striker Rudy Gestede suffered a hamstring injury on duty with Benin.