Boro dealt Steele stopper blow

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Middlesbrough have been dealt a huge pre-season injury blow after goalkeeper Jason Steele broke his scaphoid bone in training.

The club confirmed on their website that the England U21 international will be ruled out for between 10 and 12 weeks, missing the opening few months of their Npower Championship campaign.

Steele picked up the wrist injury making a routine save during a training drill, and will not be flying to Slovenia with the squad as part of their preparations for the season opener against Portsmouth on August 6th.

The news comes as a blow to manager Tony Mowbray, who has seen the 20-year-old take a firm grip of the No.1 spot at the Riverside and sign a new deal until 2015 on Teeside.

However, the Scottish boss is still looking forward to the eight-day trip abroad with the rest of his squad, and is hoping the match practice will help sharpen up his squad.


Whilst the results aren't too important, Mowbray is still hoping to see some positive signs against Istanbul BB FC, NK Varazdin and Antalyaspor.

"It's nice to win but I don't put too much stock in that. We don't know how they play and what systems they have and we have to concentrate on what we do.

"The Croatian team (Varazdin) have already played in the Europa League, so they'll be fitter than we are and we take all those things into consideration. What's important is that we're ready for August 6."

After a strong finish to the last campaign, Mowbray is hoping the club can carry on their momentum in the second tier once the season begins, and will be looking towards promotion come May.

"We finished the season very strongly and we're looking forward to the new campaign. We're all on zero points before a ball's been kicked and every club in every league will be hoping they have a good season.

"We're no different, but the added positivity we can take is from the way we finished last year and the extra numbers coming through the turnstiles. If we can continue to do well then hopefully we can add to those numbers and create a real feelgood factor.

"We're hoping to rally the fans, get the Riverside bouncing and see how we go this season. We want to create a side that scores plenty of goals so that everyone enjoys the matchday experience."

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