MIDDLESBROUGH have received a fitness boost on the eve of the new Championship season with "some" of their injured players back in training - but Michael Carrick has stressed the need for patience and won't rush them back into action.

A number of first team players have been absent for Boro during pre-season, with Chuba Akpom, Jonny Howson and Josh Coburn unable to play a part in any of the friendlies and Anfernee Dijksteel and Tommy Smith both picking up fresh injuries over the course of the summer.

Howson and Coburn are believed to have now resumed light training with the first team squad, while Akpom revealed earlier this week that he's back on the grass and stepping up his recovery.


Carrick is delighted to see his injured stars making progress, but will resist any temptation to rush them back into action.

“There are some of them back in and around the group," said the head coach at his first press conference of the season on Thursday afternoon.

"It can be a real clamour because it’s the first game of the season so you want everyone fit and available. But this isn’t a cup final, it’s not the end of a road it’s the start of one. So you’ve got to be realistic in how much you push to get the boys back in the group or back on the pitch. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so we’ve got to be smart with that.

"It all comes into play - how much they’ve trained, how much they’ve played, how long they’ve been out for. We’ve got to be smart.

"I’m not saying they won’t be ready, or they won’t be ready for next week or whatever, but we’ve got to be smart with our decision-making because it’s not just about this week or next week, it’s about the whole season and keeping as many players on the field as we can."

Carrick also confirmed that Hayden Coulson is "fine" after the head coach said the left-back had suffered a slight knock in the first half of the friendly against Auxerre.

Matt Clarke remains out of action with a back problem and it's not clear at this stage when Smith and Dijksteel will be ready to return.