Bates rejects retirement talks

Defender undergoes fourth knee op of his short career

Bates: Defiant

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Middlesbrough defender Mathew Bates has vowed to recover from knee surgery once more and is adamant it will not affect his career span.

The 22-year-old Teessider has already battled back from three separate surgeries on his knees so far in his career.

His latest setback came in a pre-season friendly against Carlisle United and on Wednesday he underwent his fourth knee operation to repair anterior cruciate ligament damage.

Bates faces the entire campaign on the sidelines as his left knee recovers but he insists early retirement is unthinkable at this stage.

"I know people might have read that it could be the end of my career but that's never entered my head, and the surgeons agree," he told the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette.

"They've said there's no reason I shouldn't get back to playing. My orthopaedic surgeon has already carried out major ops on players like Didier Drogba and more recently Freddie (Andrew) Flintoff.

"It was reassuring to see someone like Freddie utilising this same surgeon's skills just before I was relying on him."