MICHAEL CARRICK is hoping Rav van den Berg and Hayden Hackney will be back in the Middlesbrough squad to support the club’s promotion push in Saturday’s home game with Swansea City.

Boro closed within six points of the play-off places as they comfortably saw off Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-0 win at the Riverside yesterday.

The Teessiders have strung together a six-game unbeaten run to reignite their promotion hopes despite the absence of a host of senior players, but should be able to welcome some key figures back into the fold for the final six games of the season.

Van den Berg and Hackney could both be involved against Swansea at the weekend, while Dael Fry, Alex Bangura and Josh Coburn could all return to action before the end of the campaign.

“There isn’t long left, but we’re hoping certainly for Rav, and maybe Hayden for Saturday in terms of being back around the group,” said Carrick. “Dael and Josh might be a little bit further, but hopefully they’ll be back in soon too.

“Alex Bangura is back training with group now too. He’s been out a while, so we’ll have to be patient. But that’s a positive and there will be lads coming back before the end of the season.”

Van den Berg was close to making the starting side for yesterday’s game, but Carrick opted against selecting the teenager, who has been struggling with a knee injury.

In van den Berg’s absence, Jonny Howson produced another excellent display as a makeshift centre-half alongside Matt Clarke.

“Rav was close, to a point,” said Carrick. “But he’s 19 and he’s played a lot of football this season. It would have been easy to put him back in, but we had the bigger picture in mind too.

“We have a duty to do the right things to look after the boys. He’s certainly done great things for us this season, but with the age he’s at, we’ve got to be careful with him.

“I said similar about Josh earlier in the season. It’s not just a case of, ‘Throw him in, he’s fit or he’s 80 per cent fit’. There was a bit of that thinking in the decision not to pick him (van den Berg). It just wasn’t perfect, but hopefully he will be back on Saturday.”