Middlesbrough midfielder Didier Digard will step up his bid to play a part in the club's fight for Barclays Premier League survival when he turns out for the reserves on Tuesday night.

The 22-year-old Frenchman, a £4million summer signing from Paris St Germain, will start for Gareth Southgate's second string against Manchester City at the Riverside Stadium.

Digard has been out of action since suffering a partially ruptured quadriceps muscle and a partially torn medial ligament in a clash with Boro old boy Lee Cattermole during the 0-0 draw with Wigan on February 21.

The France Under-21 international underwent weeks of rehabilitation at the national football academy in Clairfontaine before returning to Teesside ahead of schedule.

Digard was an unused substitute for Saturday's 0-0 draw with Fulham, but will now hope to stake his claim for a return to the starting XI with five crucial games remaining.

Southgate has paired striker Tuncay Sanli and defender Matthew Bates in central midfield in recent weeks, but Digard, a specialist in that position, could yet have a role to play.

Boro are four points adrift of safety and face a trip to Arsenal and home game with Manchester United in their next two fixtures.

Digard will not be the only senior man hoping to catch the manager's eye on Tuesday evening with nine men with first-team experience in the squad.

Goalkeeper Ross Turnbull, full-back Justin Hoyte, central defender Chris Riggott and winger Adam Johnson have all had significant involvement, while Josh Walker, Marvin Emnes, Seb Hines and Jonathan Grounds have been on the fringes.

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#Adam Johnson