Abel Xavier is close to agreeing a deal with Middlesbrough after serving a 12-month drugs ban.
The Portuguese defender was suspended after testing positive for a steroid dianabol following Boro’s Uefa Cup trip to Xanthi in September 2005.
Boro manager Gareth Southgate said: “He’s getting stronger and I think it’s a position where we need some cover.
“His experience and enthusiasm have been a real plus around the place. He’s popular with the guys here and he’s got a point to prove.”
Xavier, who joined Middlesbrough from Roma last year, became the first Premier League player to be banned for doping when he failed a drugs test.