Middlesbrough winger Jonathan Franks is nearing a first-team return after four months out with injury.

The 20-year-old, who established himself in the Boro first-team squad last campaign scoring three goals in 24 appearances, has yet to feature this season after a back problem which required surgery.

However, after undergoing the operation the Teessider played his first football of this season as a second-half substitute for Middlesbrough reserves against Sunderland on Tuesday.

Franks told the Evening Gazette: "It's been a long time, and I have to admit I felt a bit rusty at times. But once you get back into it the adrenaline starts to flow.

"The operation has been a success, so hopefully it was the right decision to go ahead with it. It's behind me now. I am only looking forward. I know that I am starting from scratch in trying to impress the gaffer, but I have a bit of pace and hopefully that's something that the team can use.

"It's been difficult for everybody with the results going badly for us. Hopefully I will get a chance to try to help the team climb up the table."

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