HAYDEN Hackney will be fully fit for the start of pre-season, with Michael Carrick explaining the absence of the Middlesbrough midfielder in the final weeks of the season after his inclusion against Swansea.

Hackney missed nine games with a knee injury suffered in the defeat at Preston back in February but returned to the bench for the home win against the Swans in April.

He was an unused substitute that day and was then missing again for the final five games of the season, but there are no long term concerns for the 21-year-old.

Carrick instead insisted that small hiccups are inevitable with the type of medial knee injury Hackey has been battling, with the head coach speaking from experience having had a similar problem in his playing days.

Boro's boss said he could - if needed - have used Hackney in the final weeks of the season, but with little on the line felt it was wiser to let the Redcar-born midfielder fully recover to ensure he's 100 percent fit come the start of pre-season.


“He was close and we could have forced him back," said Carrick.

"His knee is fine, it’s just a little painful when kicking. It’s medial and I’ve had that myself. It’s when you’re kicking and side footing, it catches a little and it can be a little painful.

"You’ve got to kind of work through it a bit because it’s unfortunately just how the injury is. But there was no point in trying to rush him at the end of the season. He’ll be fine and there’ll be no problems at the start of pre-season.”

Hackney endured something of a frustrating season, only starting 20 of Boro's 46 Championship games, with his campaign also disrupted by an injury before Christmas.

He's been monitored by Premier League clubs since his immense breakthrough at the end of 2022, but Boro are determined to keep the midfielder on Teesside this summer. Bolstering the midfield is a transfer priority in the coming months for Boro, who won't look to make Lewis O'Brien's loan deal from Nottingham Forest permanent.