Middlesbrough defender Bates to wait on comeback
Middlesbrough defender Matthew Bates says his return from a hamstring injury will be carefully managed to avoid a further set-back.
The 24-year-old has not played since suffering the injury in February's 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace.
"There are eight games in April, a lot of games in a short period, which is what the manager and physio are looking at," Bates told BBC Tees.
"There's going to be a need for fresh legs and hopefully I can be that."
Bates has been no stranger to injury problems since making his first-team debut in 2004, as a string of long-term injuries have limited his first-team outings to just 80 appearances in those seven seasons.
However the Stockton-born centre-back continues to nurture his rehabilitation with a specialist in the United States, who has also helped with his latest absence.
"I went out to see a guy called Bill Knowles, who works in Vermont, and I was out there for six weeks with my knee, he helped me get back from that and we kept in constant contact," Bates continued.
"It was the natural thing to do, with me being out for six to eight weeks, the initial diagnosis, it was a good period of time to get out there for my hamstring, my general body and my knee.
"I got some new programmes, it was a chance for him to see how I am and adjust things I'm doing.
"For any injury I have like this, and if I can get the backing of the manager I'll be coming out here.
"I'm out there to work, it's hard work not a holiday, it's a quiet place and benefits me."