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Bates prepared to make his family unhappy
BRISTOL City centre-half Matthew Bates accepts he might have to upset his family is he is selected for this afternoon's game with his hometown team Middlesbrough.
Bates, who is a former Boro skipper, joined Bristol City following his release from the Riverside last summer, and while his initial short-term deal at Ashton Gate lapsed, he recently signed a new contract until the end of the season.
He was an unused substitute in the Robins' midweek draw with Brighton, and is expected to be back on the bench when Boro visit later today.
If he makes it on to the field, it will be the first time he has faced the club that did so much to progress his career, and who his family still fervently support.
"This is definitely a case of divided loyalties for my family," said Bates, who made 126 appearances for Boro after graduating from the club's academy in 2004. "I'm fine with it, because I have a job to do for Bristol City and I want to win the game for them.
"But it will be difficult for my family, who are all Middlesbrough fans. They want their team to win, but they also want me to do well.
"It is one of those where they want the best for their son, their brother or their friend at the same time as wanting the best for their club.
"Quite a few of my family are coming down and they've asked for tickets in the away end. I'm not sure I should do that to be honest!"
Bates' career was in the balance when he suffered his fifth cruciate knee ligament injury last March.
The 26-year-old broke down during a game at Ipswich's Portman Road, and was unable to complete his rehabilitation before the end of his Boro deal.
Bristol City offered him a contract last autumn, but the departure of former Robins boss Derek McInnes once again plunged his future into doubt.
McInnes' replacement, Sean O'Driscoll, offered him the opportunity to train and play in a couple of reserve games, and he performed well enough to secure a contract to the summer.
"Thankfully, after getting over the illness I had when the gaffer (O'Driscoll) first arrived, I've been able to impress him enough to earn an extended deal.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here, the lads are great and I'm delighted with the chance to stay."