MIDDLESBROUGH striker Rudy Gestede has suffered further frustration that has prevented him from heading away with Benin.

The 31-year-old’s first season under Jonathan Woodgate at the Riverside Stadium has already been hit with numerous problems.

Now, after emerging from the bench to help Boro equalise in the defeat at Birmingham last Friday, it has emerged that Gestede has picked up a further injury.

It is understood to be muscle related and he is expected to miss the next few weeks, including the home date with West Bromwich Albion on October 19.

Gestede has only had four league appearances as a late substitute under Woodgate and when he started in the Carabao Cup defeat at home to Crewe he was booed by supporters.

The former Aston Villa man has not enjoyed the best of times at Middlesbrough since arriving from Villa Park in a £6m deal in January 2017.

Given Woodgate’s limited number of options in attack the experienced frontman would have the chance to stake a claim for a first team shirt.

His withdrawal from the Benin squad to face Guinea-Bissau on Sunday, though, means he has remained on Teesside to rest the injury.

That would have provided him with an opportunity to end a three-year absence playing for his country. He was included in the 23-man squad in September but didn’t figure in games with Ivory Coast and Algeria.

Gestede’s last cap was in September 2016 when Benin lost to Mali and he will not be adding to his 11 caps this week either.

Middlesbrough boss Woodgate only has Ashley Fletcher and teenager Stephen Walker to challenge Britt Assombalonga for a starting spot in attack.

Gestede’s presence in the penalty area late at St Andrew’s last Friday did lead to Middlesbrough creating a chance for Daniel Ayala to level things up with three minutes to go.

The Blues still sealed victory late on, however, and that defeat has left Middlesbrough sitting just a couple of points above the relegation zone ahead of facing the league leaders, the Baggies, on Saturday week.