Woodgate boosts Boro
Jonathan Woodgate will return to the Middlesbrough squad for the first time since Boxing day for Saturday's Sky Bet Championship clash with Blackburn.
The 34-year-old central defender has been out of action since picking up a thigh injury in the 1-0 win over Burnley on December 26.
However, head coach Aitor Karanka's joy at Woodgate's presence has been tempered by the news that new signing Daniel Ayala could be out of action for some time. The former Norwich defender suffered an ankle problem in last weekend's 0-0 draw at Doncaster and looks likely to be sidelined for several weeks.
Striker Lee Tomlin, who joined the club on loan from Peterborough on deadline day, serves the second match of a three-game ban following his dismissal in his last appearance for Posh, and while keeper Jason Steele is close to a return after ankle surgery, defender Rhys Williams could miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Josh King's latest injury means he will miss Blackburn's trip.
The Norwegian winger had a scan on a hamstring problem and faces two more weeks on the sidelines in what has been an injury-hit campaign for the former Manchester United trainee.
Midfielder Corry Evans, another product of the Old Trafford academy, has been training all week and could make a long-awaited comeback from an ankle injury, which is the same problem that continues to keep Dickson Etuhu out.
Defender Tommy Spurr will play despite having stitches to a head injury and midfielder Lee Williamson, who recently suffered from concussion, will also be available but full-back Adam Henley's Achilles problem means boss Gary Bowyer will run the rule over him on Friday before travelling.