ANXIOUS Middlesbrough were today keeping their fingers crossed that Matthew Bates has NOT suffered a fifth cruciate knee ligament injury of his career.
Boro are waiting on news of the scan on the right knee their skipper injured early in Tuesday night’s 1-1 Championship draw at Ipswich.
Bates will definitely miss Saturday’s fourth against fifth clash at Brighton and Stephen McManus has been recalled from his loan spell at Bristol City.
Boro are already without Rhys Williams, one of the side’s stand-out performers this season, with ankle ligament damage.
Boro, though, are hopeful Seb Hines, who was also substituted in Tuesday night’s Portman Road showdown, will be fit after taking a knock to the head.
Boss Tony Mowbray said: “We will wait for Seb and give him every opportunity. We’re hoping he has a part to play at Brighton after taking a severe blow to his head.
“Matthew will not make the weekend.”
Bates suffered the first of his cruciate knee injuries when on loan at Ipswich in 2006.
He damaged his left knee the following year before injuring his right knee in 2008 and 2009.
Ex-Celtic defender McManus – who had been due to finish the season at relegation-threatened Bristol City – will return to training with Boro tomorrow, and will feature in the squad at the Amex Stadium.
Mowbray added: “Stephen is our player. He was away on loan and he’s now coming back to play his part and help us continue our push to try to get out of this league.”
With the emergency loan window closed, Boro are going to have to soldier on with the players they have got, with Mowbray admitting: “I tried very hard last week to get centre-backs in on loan.
“I got pretty close, to be fair, but, at the 11th hour, the manager of the team we were talking to decided against it.”
H Boro’s Reserves beat Hull 3-1 yesterday to move six points clear in the Central League’s Division One East, with Luke Williams’ well-taken double and a Curtis Main penalty securing victory for Steve Agnew’s men.