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By ESPN Staff

Boro hand Xavier contract until end of season

Abel Xavier has agreed a contract with Middlesbrough until the end of the season following his return from a drugs ban.

The former Portugal defender has signed up for his second stint on Teesside after making two appearances for Boro's reserve side since his 12-month suspension for a positive drugs test expired.

Manager Gareth Southgate welcomed the 33-year-old back to the Riverside insisting Xavier had paid the penalty for his transgression.

Southgate told the club's official website: 'In no way do we condone the taking of drugs but the ban was reduced by the game's governing authorities which suggests there was a significant reason for that.'