MARCUS BROWNE has stepped up his training significantly in the last couple of weeks – and is hoping to be available for selection shortly after the November international break.

The Middlesbrough forward has been sidelined for almost ten months, having ruptured his cruciate ligaments in January’s FA Cup third-round defeat at Brentford.

He was forced to undergo surgery in London to repair the damage, but after gradually building up his core fitness in the second half of last season and over the summer, the 23-year-old was able to move to outdoor training work at the end of last month.

He attended a talk at Leyburn Primary School earlier in the week, supporting the ‘Every Step You Take’ charity walk, and while he chatted to youngsters about the importance of protecting your mental health when things are not going well, he was also happy to be able to report some more positive news on his personal injury front.

“Hopefully, I’m not that far off now,” said Browne, who was in the middle of a rich vein of form when injury struck at the start of the year. “I’m hoping to be back in something like full training by the November international break.

“Fingers crossed, I can be back training with the lads by then. In terms of games and things like that, I think I’d have to train for quite some time before I could really starting thinking about that.

“Maybe I could play a couple of Under-23s games just to make sure everything is fine and I’m ready to go back into the first team and compete at that level. That’s the stage I’m at, at the moment.”

Browne admits there were some difficult times as he came to terms with the extent of his injury, which was sustained as the result of an innocuous challenge at Brentford’s Community Stadium.

For a while, he was only able to train at his home or in the gym, but as his injury has recovered, so he has been able to start rebuilding his core fitness at Boro’s Rockliffe Park training base.

As his strength has increased, so his confidence in his recovery has also grown, to the extent where he is now relishing the prospect of being able to resume full-contact training with the rest of Neil Warnock’s squad.

“I’m at the stage now where I’m still doing my strength work, building up more muscle, and it’s just really about gaining that trust back in my knee and being confident on that side of my body again,” he said.

“That’s where I’m at, at the moment, and obviously building up my general fitness too. I’m back on the grass now, and just trying to get back with the lads as soon as possible.”