Boro boss Neil Warnock is hoping that Jonny Howson will prove to be the first in a trio of January injury boosts.

While there was bad news about Marcus Browne, who is facing a lengthy lay-off after suffering a knee injury at Brentford, the positives come with Ashley Fletcher and Grant Hall hoping to follow in the footsteps of Howson, who returned to action against Birmingham at the weekend.

 “Jonny coming back was a real plus for us,” Warnock said.

 “I didn’t want to risk him at Brentford, even though he was busting a gut to get half an hour. 

 “He looked himself apart from one mistake where he got caught on the halfway line. 

 “Other than that, I thought he looked assured and I’m looking forward to seeing him playing more.”

Hall is making good progress while Fletcher is closing in on his own return and has already joined in some sessions.

 “When you’ve got what we’ve got you need Ashley available,” Warnock said.

 “He needs a couple of weeks so we’re probably looking at the Norwich game. He’s joined us in training games but only as a floater - it’ll nice to see him getting a little bit more football in these next few weeks.

 “I don’t think we can rush it now when we’ve waited all this time. We really need him at full tilt.”