Middlesbrough notebook - Marcus Forss absence explained and Tommy Smith fitness update

Marcus Forss of Middlesbrough applauds the fans
-Credit: (Image: Juan Gasparini/News Images)

Marcus Forss remains sidelined with the injury that ended his campaign early last term, explaining why he hasn't been seen around first-team training yet this summer.

The Finland international did report back for the start of pre-season at Middlesbrough last week, but remains injured and therefore unable to train with the rest of his team-mates currently.

Forss missed the last month of the season after picking up a hamstring injury against Blackburn Rovers in what was an injury-hit campaign in general for the forward. While Boro had many injury boosts as their squad reported back to Rockliffe, unfortunately Forss remains sidelined, with no date yet on when he will be able to return to training.

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As Boro posted clips and pictures from the first week of training, many had noticed that Forss wasn't featured among the group. Rather than being able to train alongside his team-mates, Forss is instead working with medical staff privately as he continues his recovery from the hamstring injury.

Forss' injury struggles were part of a cursed campaign as far as fitness troubles were concerned, with Michael Carrick regularly without as many as ten players in the second half of the season. While most of the players who missed the end of the campaign have reported back fit enough to start pre-season in full, Forss hasn't been able to.

Tommy Smith, who ruptured his Achilles in October and missed the rest of the season as a result, is also not back in full training, but is ahead of Forss as far as being able to join team-mates for certain training drills. Seen running out on the grass, it's the contact elements of training that the veteran right-back has as yet been unable to join in with.

As far as when he might be back available, Boro are cautious about putting a date on that because of the length of time he's been out for. Speaking to Boro Breakdown earlier in the year, Smith said that while he was through the toughest part of his recuperation, he was still reluctant to put an exact date on his return.

Boro are set to spend the rest of the week training at Rockliffe before heading off for a week of warm-weather training in Portugal on Sunday. Numbers have been boosted this week by the returns of Seny Dieng, Anfernee Dijksteel, Finn Azaz and Emmanuel Latte Lath who were all given an extra week off due to international duty.

Latest academy player to sign first pro contract

Dan James is the latest academy player to secure a first pro contract at the club which will run for three years. The 17-year-old midfielder, who was born in Newcastle but joined Boro as an under-13, was rewarded for impressive form last term that saw him make 25 appearances for our Under-18s as well as stepping up to play one U21 game too.

Two former Boro players secure new deals at clubs

Elsewhere, two former players have secured new deals at their clubs on the day they were set to become free agents.

Former loanee Alex Mowatt has signed a new two-year deal at West Brom after helping the Baggies to a play-off place last term. Out of contract this summer, he was offered a new deal at the Hawthorns and decided to stay on rather than pursue opportunities elsewhere.

Meanwhile, signing a new deal at Birmingham City, 35-year-old Lukas Jutkiewicz is hoping he can help the Blues make an immediate bounce back to the Championship following their relegation to League One.

Released academy duo find new clubs

Two youngsters who left Boro this summer have found new clubs, with goalkeeper Max Metcalfe joining League One side Stockport and defender Ben Beals moving to Spennymoor Town in the National League North.

Metcalfe, 21, was released this summer and has signed a one-year development contract at County. Head of Goalkeeping Nick Colgan said: “I’m delighted to welcome Max into our goalkeeping group at Stockport County. I’m very much looking forward to working with him over the coming weeks and months – he has all the attributes required to be a successful goalkeeper, we’re excited to see him continue his development with us."

Beals, meanwhile, is the second Boro academy player to link up with former Boro U21 boss Graeme Lee at Spennymoor, with goalkeeper Brad James joining the Durham outfit earlier in the year. Lee said of the 20-year-old: “Ben is a talented defender and I’m delighted he’s chosen to come to the club.

“I worked with him when I was a coach in the Academy at Middlesbrough, and he did fantastically well to progress through the system so I have always kept an eye on him. When I got the chance to take him to Marske last season I jumped at it and he was superb for us, so I am pleased we now have the opportunity to bring him to Spennymoor as our own player.

“Not only has he got good ability, a big heart and a real determination, Ben also has a great attitude and willingness to learn which is going to be key in this next stage of his career. I am very much looking forward to working with him again in the coming season and I am excited to see how far he can develop when he’s playing regular senior football.”