Bates is ready to try another loan spell
Paddy Davitt Middlesbrough's ex-Norwich City loan defender Matthew Bates is not ruling out a fresh New Year stint away from the Riverside after ending his injury nightmare.
Middlesbrough's ex-Norwich City loan defender Matthew Bates is not ruling out a fresh New Year stint away from the Riverside after ending his injury nightmare.
Canaries' chief Glenn Roeder is an admirer of the 22-year-old who was forced to cut short a City loan spell last season in only his third outing against Hull in February.
Bates battled back from a third career-threatening knee ligament injury to feature in Boro's 1-0 midweek Premiership defeat at champions Manchester United.
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The versatile defender was among a clutch of top flight loan talent recruited by Roeder in the January window 12 months ago. Bates admits he is now prepared to go out on loan again to earn a new contract at his hometown club.
The Teesider has six months left on his current deal at the Premier League strugglers, but could be forced to bide his time after a surprise Old Trafford bow in place of the injured Justin Hoyte.
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"I'll see what the situation is before the weekend," he said, after his first Boro senior outing in more than two years. "If I'm honest the idea was to get out on loan in January but things might change after Monday's game. I'll have to have a word with the gaffer and see what the future is here. I'm out of contract in the summer so I've got some big decisions to make.
"Justin's out injured so the right-back slot is there for the taking and if I can keep playing well and work hard in training, I will see how it goes from there."
Bates is just desperate for an injury-free run after an early career blighted by knee ligament trouble.
The former England youth international tore his cruciate while on loan at Ipswich in 2006 before suffering a similar injury to his left knee while on the comeback trail.
Roeder handed the youngster a chance to resurrect his professional career 12 months ago until Bates suffered fresh cruciate damage to his right knee during a 1-1 Championship draw against Hull at Carrow Road.
"It's been hard, it's been very hard," he said. "But I've had very good people around me. One of the lads in the changing room asked me who my last game was against and to be honest I couldn't remember, but it was just so good to be back again."
Bates is backing Southgate to turn Boro's fortunes around after his first senior outing in ten months against the European champions. Dimitar Berbatov's second half strike stretched the Teesiders' winless league run to eight matches and dragged Southgate's men ever closer the congested relegation zone.
"If we can play like that every week with the same amount of desire and determination to score goals and keep clean sheets I think we'll do okay," said Bates. "I've been watching from the sidelines for the best part of this season and all of last year but I was surprised how well the lads did out there. Maybe me being a fresh face in there I look at things a bit differently, because I don't know what the atmosphere has been like out on the pitch, but I was impressed."