Bates heads to USA in latest fightback
MATTHEW BATES will attempt to speed up his recovery from a fourth serious injury with a trip to the United States next week, when he will put his faith in the man who has helped Tiger Woods and Jonny Wilkinson back to fitness. Bates heads to Vermont next Friday to begin the first of two three-week stays which will see him receive the advice and treatment of top knee physiotherapist Bill Knowles. Provided the stay goes well, Bates expects to head back out there early in the new year for the second stint before he starts running again in a couple of months. While this season has been written off, and he does not expect to be training with his team-mates again until preseason, Bates is remaining optimistic and is confident of a return to action. There had been fears his career was over having endured the fourth cruciate knee ligament injury of his career in the pre-season fixture at Carlisle United. It was the cruelest of blows to the defensive midfielder, who had just been rewarded for a fine season after recovering from cruciate injury number three with a new contract at the Riverside. There had been interest shown from West Ham United, Wolves, Wigan and Everton, but the Stockton-born Bates opted to stay on Teesside to try to help Boro return to the Premier League. When disaster struck again, he weighed up his options before opting for pioneering surgery from London specialist Andy Williams on September 2. The surgery was deemed a success and Dr Williams, who had previously worked on Andrew Flintoff, was quick to tell the Boro player that he should be able to make another comeback. Such encouraging words helped to give Bates the confidence to embark on another long road back to fitness and now he hopes his trip to America to see Knowles will ensure his rehabilitation continues. Due to Bates' injury woe he has been unable to make an impression on Gordon Strachan, who took over from Gareth Southgate at the end of last month. Strachan has been working on trying to change things at the Riverside Stadium by bringing in three new players on loan, but he is yet to celebrate his first win. He withdrew the captaincy from David Wheater against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, when he handed the armband to Gary O'Neil. It was a decision that follows a stuttering start to the campaign from Wheater and Strachan said: David is a young player who needs to concentrate on developing his football.
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