JONATHAN WOODGATE has revealed that young full-back Hayden Coulson has suffered a set-back in his bid for recovery and could miss the next six weeks through injury.

The 21-year-old had made an impressive start to the new campaign under Boro’s new head coach but he has not figured since the defeat to Brentford on August 10.

Coulson suffered a tendon problem and has now had a recurrence of the problem after a period when Woodgate hoped he was making progress.

The news comes at a time when Middlesbrough have confirmed that George Friend and Jonny Howson have had to undergo surgery this week and also face time in the stands.

Woodgate said: “George had the operation yesterday, so did Jonny Howson. I'm waiting to hear off the doc what they found when they opened George up.

“Jon will just be a bog standard hernia, should be back in hopefully a couple of weeks. Gone are the days where you push mesh in, now it's just a quick clip of the right nerve and you're OK. Rudy Gestede should be fit after the Reading game.

“These injuries happen but they're an opportunity for someone to come in, like with Connor Malley on the bench last week. He'll be on the bench again.

“Hayden will be another four to six weeks. There's a slight tendon issue with the rectus femoris which isn't ideal because he was doing fantastically well. I know because I've had the same injury.

“It's disappointing for us but He can still do a lot of running and the medical team will keep him fit.”

Middlesbrough will have had two weeks off since the draw at Bristol City, when Woodgate’s players turned in arguably the best performance under him. He is looking for those standards to be maintained against Reading at the Riverside on Saturday.

“It’s been really good. We worked hard with the players, they've enjoyed it and we're looking forward to Reading. It's been good,” he said. “If my players get back safe that's the most important thing. Phil Hudson will look at the opposition players.

“I know what my team is. I knew my team after Bristol for the Reading game. We work on a lot of things, what we're good at and what we’re going to be better at.

“I always go out looking at how we beat a team rather than worrying about them as much.”