Middlesbrough are not short of options up front with Britt Assombalonga, Jordan Hugill, Martin Braithwaite and Ashley Fletcher currently competing for places.

Another name to add to the list is Rudy Gestede, who has been missing through injury since fracturing his ankle in Middlesbrough’s pre-season, but the Benin international is close to returning, manager Tony Pulis has confirmed.

Speaking to Middlesbrough’s official website, Pulis spoke of Gestede’s injury lay off, and stated he has started training with the first team while he regains his fitness.

“Rudy was out for a long time, he’s training and has had a week with us,” he said.

“I’ll speak to the doctor and get him moving. He’s getting close, which is good for us.

“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.

Gestede originally fractured his ankle at the end of last season, and missed the majority of games after December whilst recovering. He did play in the Play Off Semi-final defeat to Aston Villa, but it proved to be a few games too early, as he reinjured his ankle in pre-season just a few games later.

The striker’s injury prompted Pulis to dip into the transfer market in the summer, as he brought in West Ham United’s Jordan Hugill on a season-long loan deal. The Boro boss spoke of Hugill this week too, and he was full of praise for the forward.

“Jordan’s (Hugill) better, he looks leaner, he’s trained really and he’s a good lad” he said.

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Lifelong Boro fan - from the highs of watching Juninho and the Carling Cup victory, to the lows of Gordon Strachan and Lee Dong Gook

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