LEE PELTIER will start at right-back for Middlesbrough tomorrow, with Anfernee Dijksteel facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Dijksteel suffered a hamstring injury during last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat to Blackpool, and is expected to be absent for a number of weeks.

With Darnell Fisher also recovering from a long-term injury issue, and Djed Spence having been loaned to Nottingham Forest, Boro are short of natural right-back options, but the return of Marc Bola does at least mean that Peltier can switch flanks to play on the right of the back four at Reading tomorrow.

“Dijksteel is going to be out for a substantial time,” said Boro boss Neil Warnock. “I don't expect to see him for quite a few weeks. It doesn’t look good.

“What are the options (at right-back)? Peltier. Hopefully, we can do that (with Bola being available). I did try Sol (Bamba) at full-back the other day in the Under-23s, but he said to me after, ‘I hope I never, ever have to play left-back again, gaffer’. It was only for 30 minutes, but I can assure you I actually agreed with him!”

Bola’s return will be a major boost, with Paddy McNair also set to be back in the team at the Madejski Stadium after resuming training this week.

Warnock tried to recruit a number of different left-backs in the summer, only for a succession of deals to fall through, so Bola is arguably the member of the squad he can least afford to be without given the lack of available alternatives.

“I was disappointed we couldn’t get another left-sider in, if I’m honest,” he said. “But we have got what we’ve got, and Bola is there.

“You forget Marc never did any pre-season though. Then he had an injury, then he had another thing, then he came back and got another injury. It’s almost a case that every time he goes out, we’re crossing our fingers.

“We’ll have a look at him in training, but I have to say, I think Peltier has done magnificently. I expected Peltier to come in occasionally when Dijksteel or Bola got injured. I didn’t expect him to be the only fit lad at the club.”