Local-boy Bates hoping to use his own recovery to inspire Boro to safety

14 March 2009 12:04
Some players never fully recover from one cruciate injury. Matthew Bates is living, and now playing proof, that you can overcome two.It has taken time. And he is currently playing out of position in a fledgling Middlesbrough midfield, but the important thing is that Bates is playing again, and despite his team's relegation worries, he is loving his football again.Boro boss Gareth Southgate made the surprise decision to turn to Bates for the midfield anchor role despite making only nine starts as a defender since he turned pro five years ago. After a rusty start, he has backed his manager's brave decision with some steady performances alongside Gary O'Neil, Didier Digard and Julio Arca.[LNB] In the mix: Matthew Bates is now a feature of Middlesbrough's midfield[LNB]And in fact things are going so well, talks have opened on a new dealfor the 22-year-old, normally employed as a centre-back, who is out ofcontract at the end of the season.He said: 'On a personal note it's been good to be back playing. At thestart of the season if someone had said I'd have played as much as Ihave then I would have been delighted. As a team it's not going as wellas I would have liked. MIDDLESBROUGH v Portsmouth: Southgate's defence dilemma for Pompey clash[LNB]Southgate admits Alves letdown but backs Brazil striker to keep Boro up[LNB]Middlesbrough v PORTSMOUTH: Hart's Pompey to remain the same for Riverside trip[LNB]MIDDLESBROUGH FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE NET[LNB][LNB]'I was out for the best part of two years. I feel I am stronger as aperson and physically. It was an important two years to miss but a lotof it is in my head. 'I'd rather have the injuries now than when I'm 30. It's easier to get over when I'm younger but it was hard.[LNB] Local boy: Bates is hoping to inspire his local team to beat relegation[LNB]'I remember everything from the injury. The days after it sticks in mymind, my family's mind. I was very low. The lowest I have been as aperson, it would have been easy to just get smashed, but I had greatsupport from everyone. My mum was really down as well. 'I went to France for six weeks. It was a specialist rehab centre forelite sportsmen in France. There were rugby players in wheelchairs,there were skiers who had broken legs in five places. There were 100there when I was there. And I was thinking I'm quite lucky, I might getout of this.'[LNB]Boro boss: Southgate is pleased with the recovery and progress made by Bates[LNB]Bates is relishing the part he is playing in Boro's difficult survivalbid, which intensifies tomorrow with the visit of fellow bottom threeside Portsmouth to the Riverside Stadium.He is just pleased to be a part of Middlesbrough's first team squad andas one of many local lads in it, knows the importance of the weeksahead.Bates said: 'My family and friends support the club. I have to walkdown the street, as do some of the other lads, and we have to go homeand speak to the family. The foreign lads care, but when they go homethey don't get the 24 hours situation we are in. 'It is a lot harder for us to take, but we all have to stick togetherand we have to get out of it as a squad and unite. I think we will getout if it.'It's an absolute nightmare for the club and for me as a local lad. I'mglad to be playing every week playing in the Premier League, I'm notthinking about relegation. I'm thinking about helping the team. I'moptimistic, clear heads. I'm coming in.'[LNB] MIDDLESBROUGH v Portsmouth: Southgate's defence dilemma for Pompey clash[LNB]Southgate admits Alves letdown but backs Brazil striker to keep Boro up[LNB]Middlesbrough v PORTSMOUTH: Hart's Pompey to remain the same for Riverside trip[LNB]MIDDLESBROUGH FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE NET[LNB][LNB] [LNB]  

Source: Daily_Mail