Rhys Williams: Aitor Karanka says Middlesbrough defender can cope

Rhys Williams
Williams suffered a further Achilles injury but not the same part of the tendon

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka says Rhys Williams is mentally equipped to cope with another long-term absence after a repeat Achilles injury.

Williams, 26, returned to first-team duty against Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day - his first game after 10 months out with a similar problem.

However, injury against Barnsley last Saturday means another another lay-off.

"He's stronger than he was the last time because he knows what will happen," Karanka told BBC Tees.

"For him I think it's important the injury is not in the same place the the first one happened.

"He feels the medical staff worked very well with him and he knows the club and staff are supporting him."

While there is disappointment about the loss of Australia international Williams, the Spaniard has been buoyed by the emergence of Jelle Vossen in Boro's front line.

Jelle Vossen
Vossen's first goal for Boro came in a hat-trick against Millwall - his 15th Boro appearance

Belgium striker Vossen failed to score in his first 14 games, but struck a hat-trick in his 15th appearance for Boro against Millwall and has since scored a further two goals to bring his total to five in 20 matches for the Teessiders.

"He's a player who is not a surprise for me, I've seen him training for three months," Karanka added.

"Seeing him every day I could feel that this moment would arrive. He's a very good, experienced player who is mature and working always, expecting his opportunity.

"When he has had it, he's taken it and it's good for him and the other strikers to go on the same way and learn about him.

"He showed a great attitude and done really well."