Alves ruled out
Middlesbrough's hopes of escaping relegation were dealt a blow when it was confirmed record signing Afonso Alves will not play again this season. Tests carried out this morning revealed the Brazilian, a £12.7million capture from Heerenveen, fractured a metatarsal during last night's 3-1 derby defeat at Newcastle and will miss Saturday's home clash with Aston Villa and the final day trip to West Ham. Alves was hurt in a first-half challenge by Nicky Butt, which cost the midfielder a booking, and was carried off on a stretcher with the score at 1-1. In addition, captain Emanuel Pogatetz has undergone knee surgery and will also be unavailable for the last two games with the Teessiders' 11-year stay in the top flight under severe threat. David Wheater and Didier Digard are still being assessed after missing last night's game with knee and groin injuries respectively.
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