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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 06:48 GMT
20,000 see Juninho return
Juninho is now close to a first team return
Juninho is now close to a first team return
Juninho made a successful comeback for Middlesbrough reserves in front of a bumper crowd after a six-month injury lay-off on Wednesday.

The Brazilian midfielder scored in a 9-0 victory over Bradford City reserves in a game watched by almost 20,000 fans.

Juninho ruptured his cruciate ligaments during a pre-season game in Italy just days after rejoining Boro from Atletico Madrid.

I have the ambition to win something for Middlesbrough to remember for the rest of my life
Juninho

But after a long period of recuperation in Brazil, the 30-year-old returned to a triumphant reception after the reserve fixture was switched to the Riverside Stadium.

"It's difficult to explain my relationship with the Middlesbrough supporters," he said. "It's been wonderful since my first time here.

"That's why I made the decision to come back to the club, and that's why I have the ambition to win something for Middlesbrough to remember for the rest of my life."

Juninho crowned his comeback with Boro's fifth goal two minutes before half-time, while the club's record signing Massimo Maccarone scored four in the rout.

The game also saw the return of defender Ugo Ehiogu after a serious rib injury.

"We're delighted to see Juni back in a Boro shirt," said manager Steve McClaren.

"He was excited about playing at the Riverside again, and I hope it will stand him in good stead for his first-team return."

Juninho could now be included in the Boro squad to face Everton on Saturday, or the rearranged derby date with Newcastle four days later.

"I feel prepared to play, but it's six months without playing, so we'll let it go step by step," he told Boro's official website.

"The manager will decide, but the most important thing is that I'm able to be in the squad."




MIDDLESBROUGH

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