Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has revealed long-term injury victim Robert Huth will not be fit for the start of next Premiership campaign.
Huth made a £6m move from Chelsea to Middlesbrough in 2006
The German defender, 22, signed from Chelsea at the start of last season but only made 12 starts because of an ankle problem that needed surgery.
"We might have to wait until August for him to be fit," Southgate told The Northern Echo newspaper.
"It was very important Robert had his operation when he did."
He added: ""We could have carried on going as we were but the right thing to do is to get the operation done properly and to give him a clean bill of health."
Southgate also insisted that Huth's fellow defender Chris Riggott, who also suffered from injury last season, would not be moving away from the Riverside.
"We need that competition for places back there, that's vital." said Southgate.
"From his point of view he has had a frustrating season injury-wise.
"I want him to come back next season and get himself fit. I want him to hang on to the shirt after getting into the team."