JONNY HOWSON could be available for Middlesbrough’s forthcoming home game with Sheffield Wednesday after successfully stepping up his recovery from hernia surgery in the last couple of days.

Howson travelled to Germany to undergo a hernia operation during the recent international break, with the problem having prevented him from appearing in the 2-2 draw with Bristol City.

The procedure went as planned, and he was given the green light to return to outdoor work at Boro’s Rockliffe Park training ground at the start of the week.

He is yet to take part in any full contact sessions, so this weekend’s trip to Cardiff City is likely to come too soon for him.

However, he will step up his work as the week progresses provided he has no setbacks, with the game against Sheffield Wednesday on September 28 regarded as a realistic target for a first-team return.

“Hopefully, I won’t be too far away,” said Howson. “I saw a specialist surgeon out there (in Germany) the club have used before. I spoke to the club doctor, Bryan English, and he recommended the surgeon, and if he recommends it, that’s good enough for me.

“It is a routine procedure for them, and I presume it was all straight-forward. I’m back on the grass now.

“Since I’ve had it done, I’ve been speaking to quite a few of the lads who have had hernias before in their careers. It seems a fairly common thing and people recover well with no problems, so hopefully I’ll be back quick and as good as new.

“I’m not sure of the timetable but I’m outside now, I’ve started running a little bit and it feels really good. So, hopefully I can kick on now, and within a couple of weeks, I like to think I’ll be back.”

In Howson’s absence, Anfernee Dijksteel has had the chance to show what he can do in the right-back berth following a summer move from Charlton Athletic.

Dijksteel looked edgy when he made his first Middlesbrough start in the Carabao Cup defeat to Crewe Alexandra, but the 22-year-old has gradually improved since then and turned in his best display of the season as Boro claimed a 1-0 win over Reading last weekend.

“He’s done really well,” said Howson. “Sometimes, when you move to a new club, it can take a while to settle in. But there’s a real togetherness in the group and that has helped him bed in quickly. You can see he is getting better every game.”

Not, however, that Howson wants to start getting used to watching Dijksteel and the rest of his Boro team-mates from the sidelines.

“There’s nothing worse as a player than watching a game,” he said. “Sat watching the last five or ten minutes (against Reading), when they had a few corners and Daz (Darren Randolph) made a couple of terrific saves - it’s the worst thing ever watching it.

“It’s so frustrating. You can’t affect it. At least if you are out there, you can understand the situation and do your job, and might be able to do something to help out.

“But sitting and watching it from up there, you are helpless. You are completely powerless. You can’t do a thing. It’s the worst thing.”