MIDDLESBROUGH defender Paddy McNair has returned to training with the squad having missed last week’s win over Stoke City and is racing to be fit for this weekend’s crunch Championship tie.

The Northern Irishman, who celebrated his 27th birthday last week, missed the game through illness. But manager Chris Wilder reserved hopes that McNair would be available for this weekend’s huge game against Preston North End where Boro are hoping to make a late surge for the play-offs.

But McNair was pictured in training at the club’s Rockliffe facility on Wednesday which comes as encouraging news for the Boro coaching staff.

The versatile defender has been a constant in the Boro side this season featuring in 46 games this and scoring five goals.

Veteran defender Lee Peltier took his place in the side against the Potters and would be the likely candidate to stay in the starting eleven should McNair be unavailable for the trip to Lancashire. Wilder described his performance as ‘outstanding’ as he stepped in a left centre-back.

As things stand, Wilder has no fresh injury concerns for this weekend’s game as Boro look to overtake either Sheffield United or Luton Town to earn themselves a place in the top six of the Championship.