PATRICK ROBERTS is ahead of schedule and set to hand Middlesbrough a massive boost in the fight for survival next week.

The on-loan Manchester City playmaker, who impressed instantly following his switch in January, has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury sustained in the draw with Birmingham City on January 21.

Roberts was immediately ruled out for eight weeks and there were even fears it could be longer, but he is scheduled to join in with first team training on Monday again ahead of the visit of Swansea City on March 14.

If he can play a part in that game then it would be a timely return to the fold for the former Celtic player, with Middlesbrough desperate for a lift as they look to avoid a fall in to League One.

Boro’s head coach Jonathan Woodgate said: “Our medical team have been absolutely fantastic and the plan they’ve had with Patrick from day one has been fantastic.

“Patrick has really bought into it. Sometimes when loan players get injured they go back to their club but Patrick wanted to stay here and integrate with the lads which is first class.

“I speak to the doctors regularly and his attitude to try to get fit has been second to none.

“It’s been tough for Patrick because he has had hamstring injuries before. This is one he said he’s never done the rehab as he’s done with our medical team.”

Roberts was only four matches into his Middlesbrough spell when he suffered the injury in January, but rather than head to parent club Manchester City to recover he was determined to stay at Rockliffe Park.

The 23-year-old had a frustrating period at Norwich City in the first half of the season when he struggled to get game time so is now eager to enjoy the final nine games and help repay Woodgate for his faith and keep Middlesbrough up.

“That’s how settled he was here, that’s how good he’s been with the lads and that shows the team ethic and spirit of the boy for him to want to stay here,” said Woodgate.

“He hasn’t let me down one bit but you want to be loved as a player and for someone to speak to you regularly. If you stay here you will be treated well and as one of the top players, we try to treat everyone exactly the same but you get my gist, he’s a special player and we want him right for the rest of his career. I want him to be the best Patrick can be.

“He’s a great kid, a really good lad who just wants to play football. He’s worked ever so hard, he’s been everywhere the doctor has asked him.

“He’s been doing little bits of rehab in sand dunes, at Saltburn, everywhere, he’s been working really hard. I say to all of my players don’t rush it, try to stick to a plan and don’t come away from that plan.”

Woodgate is a huge admirer of the “big talent” but wouldn’t commit to whether he will look to re-sign him in the summer because of the position Middlesbrough are in.

He takes his side to Charlton tomorrow knowing that a failure to end the ten match winless run will keep them in the bottom three, with the Addicks sitting just a point above them.

Strikers Britt Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher will be fit for the crucial relegation encounter. Assombalonga missed Monday’s draw with Nottingham Forest through illness while Fletcher missed the same game with a hamstring complaint.

But they have trained this week and Woodgate has confirmed that they will be in contention for the game at Charlton, who sit just a point above Middlesbrough going into the final ten games.

Middlesbrough have also learned that Dael Fry should be available to face Swansea the following week, with him due to return to training with Roberts on Monday.

Woodgate said: “Daniel Ayala is still two or three weeks away. Anfernee Dijksteel got back but has a similar injury. Britt will be back. Ashley will be back. Every single player in that dressing room will play a part between now and the end of the season."  Middlesbrough were left frustrated against Forest when they conceded a late equaliser, when goals from Rudy Gestede and Lewis Wing had put them ahead.

But Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has suggested that he will stick by Woodgate whatever happens this season, and Woodgate is determined to repay him.

“He has been very loyal to me,” said Woodgate. “You need the right chairman in charge for your first job, I am very lucky to have a chairman as passionate in the club as he is, since 1986 he has ploughed money in, led this club to a European cup final.  “I don’t take his backing for granted. We don’t change, we look to the future. We know what we want. I am convinced we will come good.”