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Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 14:30 UK

O'Neil hopeful for Boro comeback

Gary O'Neil
O'Neil is hopeful of coming back against Ipswich on Saturday

Middlesbrough midfielder Gary O'Neil is hopeful of a return to the first team for the visit of Ipswich on Saturday after a successful groin operation.

O'Neil, 26, underwent the surgery during the international break and has been working hard to build up his fitness ahead of Saturday's game.

"I managed to warm up with the lads and did some running with the fitness coach," he told BBC Tees.

"We've been pushing it on as quickly as we can to get it ready."

The former England Under-21 international, who joined the club from Portsmouth for £5m in August 2007, has been a victim of groin and hamstring injuries during his career.

And the London-born midfielder revealed the specialists are confident the operation will help clear up any further issues surrounding those niggles.

"The surgeon seems to think the surgery will help me to get rid of some niggles that I used to get," he said.

"He seems to think it will help the all-round area, and hopefully I go for the rest of the season now without missing too many more."

Middlesbrough are currently fourth in the Championship, three points behind leaders Newcastle United after five games.

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