Middlesbrough midfielder Gary O'Neil is to play through the pain barrier to feature in their Championship opener against Sheffield United despite requiring a hernia operation, skysports.com understands.
O'Neil has been struggling with the hernia problem for a while, but he is keen to make himself available for the big kick-off against United at the Riverside, live on Sky Sports 1.
Boro boss Gareth Southgate wants to have the former Portsmouth man available as he looks to get his season off to a winning start.
O'Neill, who has been linked with a move away from Middlesbrough this summer, is due to undergo surgery next week in a bid to clear up the problem.
The injury is not believed to be serious and O'Neil is keen to get the problem resolved now so that he can have a clean bill of health for the new season.