Bates: Middlesbrough return will be so strange

FORMER Middlesbrough captain Matthew Bates admits he faces “strange” experience when he steps out at the Riverside as a Bristol City player on Saturday.

The 25-year-old – who joined the Teesiders at the age of 12 – made his debut for the lowly Robins last weekend after signing a short-term contract until January.

Bates is relishing his return to Boro, who let him go in the summer after his fifth cruciate ligament injury, and he said: “I captained the team and made over 100 appearances for the club.

“I was aware it was on the fixture list.

“I don’t like to look or think too far ahead so I concentrated fully on the Blackpool game last weekend.

“Of course, it will be strange going back there. I’ve still got plenty of friends there and it will be good to see them.

“I’ll have to see what the gaffer wants to do first. If he wants to pick me then I’ll be ready.

“All my family are Boro fans too, so it will certainly be a good game for them.”

City boss Derek McInnes was delighted with Bates’s debut in City’s much-improved defensive display in a 1-1 Championship draw against Blackpool.

The Scot said: “Considering how long Matthew has been out, his performance was excellent.

“It was not just his general play, but the fact he played with such composure and authority.

“That says everything about the kind of person and player he is. That he keeps coming back from these injuries says a lot about his character and quality.

“We know he can play the level and, for me, he has a real pedigree. He is a class act and there were a lot of clubs in the Premiership looking at him.

“He is a confident and assured individual and I thought he brought that authority to our back four.”