Franks determined to put injuries behind him
JONATHAN Franks is hoping to put last season's injury-hit campaign behind him after making a goalscoring start to Middlesbrough's pre-season programme. Franks grabbed a late equaliser as Boro began their Slovenian tour with a 1-1 draw with Istanbul BB on Thursday. The Stockton-born 21-year-old made just one Championship start last season as a long-term back injury sidelined him for large tracts of the campaign. He is back to full fitness now though, and is hoping to use Boro's pre-season matches to push his claim for a starting spot in the opening league game against Portsmouth on Saturday, August 6. I've come back in this pre-season to prove myself and show what I can do, said Franks, who made his senior debut as long ago as May 2009. This is a great way to start. I'm delighted after the disappointment of last season with all the injuries I had. It was just our first game and hopefully we'll get a few more minutes under our belt in the next few days. It's not just about the result, it's about the workout, but we'll take a draw from the first game. Boro boss Tony Mowbray was satisfied with his side's opening pre-season outing, which featured an inexperienced starting line-up following the departure of Julio Arca, Andrew Taylor, Kris Boyd and Didier Digard, and injuries to Jason Steele, Andy Halliday and Kevin Thomson. We're pleased with how the game went, said Mowbray. It was really an exercise for us to make sure we stayed solid as a unit. We had a young team out. Cameron Park was in central midfield and young Adam Reach, who made his debut late last season, was playing wide left for us. It was always going to be a tough game, especially in the heat. In the first half the pitch was a bit sticky, we were up against top-flight opposition from Turkey, we didn't know their qualities. But I thought our players stuck to the job well, they made life difficult for the opposition. Boro are back in action tomorrow when they face Croatian side NK Varazdin. Merouane Zemmama and Connor Ripley joined the tour yesterday, but the former will not be involved tomorrow as he does not have a visa to enter Croatia. Trialist Malaury Martin should link up with the squad tomorrow morning, while Luke Williams should also be available to face Varazdin after shaking off a minor knock. Malaury should be joining us Sunday so should be able to play half a game, confirmed Mowbray. We should have a few more bodies to throw at Sunday's game, which will be a bigger test than Thursday's by all accounts.
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