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By ESPN Staff

Easy does it as Mendieta returns to training

Middlesbrough midfielder Gaizka Mendieta has returned to light training but will not be fit for the start of the season as he recovers from a broken foot.

The former Spain international was joined by his team-mates as they reported back for pre-season training today after specialists recommended he step up his recovery programme from a broken metatarsal in April.

New manager Gareth Southgate welcomed the Basque midfielder's progress but predicted it would at least six weeks until Mendieta returns to full training, let alone competitive action.

'It's great to see Mendi back and raring to go,' former England defender Southgate told the club's website,

'He has obviously gone through a difficult time because it was a serious injury and he had to sit out the big UEFA Cup nights, including the final itself.

'But he has come back from serious injury before and he is determined to come back stronger than ever.

'It's obviously disappointing that he won't be ready for the very start of the season, though he should be back in full training about then but will probably be lacking in match fitness.

'As always with these things, the key is getting him back right rather than rushing him back for the sake of a couple of weeks and putting his recovery at risks.

'So he will continue his running and general rehab for now and I look forward to seeing him back on the training pitch in the near future.'