Aitor Karanka says Rhys Williams must be patient when waiting for his chance to break back into an in-form Boro side.
The Spanish Head Coach was boosted by the return of Williams this week after the Australian played 60 minutes for Paul Jenkins' U21s on Monday.
And Aitor has praised Williams' contribution in training but admitted he could have a wait on his hands for a first team spot after a long spell on the sidelines.
"Rhys has been very good," said Aitor. "I think it's very important for him to get a feel for playing games again, but he has to keep calm because he's been out for 11 months.
"It's difficult to get fit again, but he's intelligent and an experienced player and he's been doing really well in training."
Jonathan Woodgate has also been back in training this week and with Muzzy Carayol set to make his return in the New Year Aitor is welcoming the added options to his squad.
"Woody is good and he is the first to know his position in the team," said Aitor. "It's very important for me to have him as a captain and when he's not playing he's the first player helping and supporting the team so he's very good for the lads.
"I think if Rhys, Woody and Muzzy come back in the same form that they were in last season then that will be great for us because they're all very good, experienced players."