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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Juninho out until 2003
Juninho made his debut against Alaves last week
Juninho made his debut against Alaves last week
Middlesbrough's new signing Juninho will not play until next year after picking up a cruciate ligament injury.

The Brazilian World Cup winner damaged his left knee during a friendly with Italian side Modena in Mantova on Saturday.


Juninho's misfortune could be an opportunity for someone else
Steve McClaren

A scan has since revealed that he has torn his cruciate ligament and will be out for five months.

The ligament is not completely ruptured and Juninho will have an operation later this week.

Boro boss Steve McClaren said the news was a "huge blow" to the club ahead of next week's Premiership kick-off.

"After all the excitement of his return to the club and his performance against Alaves last week, this has brought us all back down to earth with a bump," he said.

"All we can do now is wish Juninho a speedy recovery."

Juninho completed his move from Atletico Madrid last week and is in his third spell with Boro.

Juninho returned to Middlesbrough last week
Juninho got a hero's welcome at the Riverside

He made his latest debut for the club in the 3-2 friendly win over Alaves last Wednesday, and scored the first goal in an impressive display.

But McClaren insisted the squad was strong enough to survive the absence of Juninho.

"It's a setback, but we must show our resolve," said McClaren.

"We will need the club, players and fans to pull together.

"We've got a strong squad that is good enough to do well this season and Juninho's misfortune could be an opportunity for someone else.

"With Szilard Nemeth, Alen Boksic, Joseph Desire Job and Noel Whelan, I believe we've got cover in abundance."

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