Middlesbrough striker Rudy Gestede closes in on first-team return
Middlesbrough could be boosted by the return of striker Rudy Gestede ahead of a congested run of fixtures.
Boro will play six times in the next three weeks, starting with Wednesday's home clash against Bolton Wanderers at the Riverside.
Tony Pulis' side will then face Swansea, Preston, Hull and Ipswich before coming up against Nottingham Forest on October 6.
That will inevitably mean Pulis will have to rotate his squad, which lost for the first time at Norwich on Saturday.
Britt Assombalonga has started every game in the league but now has competition up front, with Jordan Hugill fit and raring to go.
Gestede, who was sidelined during the second half of last season with a fractured ankle, could also throw his hat in the ring.
The Benin international featured in the second leg of the Play-Off semi-final against Aston Villa last season, before re-injuring his ankle during pre-season.
But Pulis has been encouraged by the striker's return to training.
“Rudy was out for a long time, he’s training and has had a week with us,” Pulis to mfc.co.uk.
“I’ll speak to the doctor and get him moving. He’s getting close, which is good for us."
The Boro boss also praised Hugill's attitude following the striker's arrival on a season-long loan from West Ham.
Hugill still hasn't started a league game for Boro after suffering from a hamstring injury but did score in the Carabao Cup game against Rochdale.
“He’s been training with us, he’s had a week’s training and having been out for three months, it’s a lot for him," said Pulis.
“Jordan’s better, he looks leaner, he’s trained really and he’s a good lad.”
Boro slipped to fourth in the Championship following their defeat at Carrow Road but remain just a point off top spot.