After the temperatures in the respective technical areas had cooled down following Middlesbrough one-all draw with Birmingham City in mid-week, attention turned to the January transfer window.
Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate was quizzed on possible January signings ahead of a ten day break due to his side being knocked out of the FA Cup earlier this year.
Woodgate eluded to the fact that ‘one or two’ new faces could be following the likes of Patrick Roberts and Lukas Nmecha through the doors of Rockliffe, before his next meeting with the press ahead of Middlesbrough’s game with Blackburn on February 1st.
Roberts and Nmecha have helped to add to Woodgate’s attacking options, and with injuries to Daniel Ayala and Dael Fry over recent weeks, the focus of recruitment has now switched to the defence.
Boro finished the game against Birmingham with Jonny Howson, Paddy McNair and Nathan Wood playing in a back five together.
If the Teessiders are going to kick on and move up the table, they need more experience that this on their backline – especially since the transfer of Darren Randolph means that the quality of the man between the sticks has decreased.
Here are some options that Middlesbrough could be looking at to fill the void at centre half:
It was reported earlier this week, by Sky Sports, that Middlesbrough were keen on taking Bournemouth’s young defender Jack Simpson on loan for the rest of the season.
Woodgate, along with Derby manager Phillip Cocu and Stoke boss Michael O’Neill, is an admirer of the Weymouth-born centre half who has made six appearances for Eddie Howe’s Cherries this season.
Simpson would add depth to a Boro backline in desperate need of numbers, but he may not add the quality and will not add the experience of other players who could be available.
This loan would be taking a chance on Simpson, but Woodgate has not shied away from similar moves this season.
Another young talent, Luke Woolfenden currently plies his trade for Ipswich Town in League One. Town currently hold the equal-best defensive record in the league, as the Tractor boys have only conceded 24 goals in 26 matches.
The 22-year old has been a mainstay in Paul Lambert’s side this season and has drawn attention from Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United. But if Lambert stuck to his guns and wanted the supposed £10 million that was suggested earlier in the window, then Middlesbrough wouldn’t even be entering the auction house.
Woodgate’s previous permanent signings would point towards this signing being a possibility, but perhaps the hype around Woolfenden is too big at the moment and Boro would be best off looking elsewhere.
A name that needs no introduction to Middlesbrough fans, Gibson spent the first eight years of his professional career on Teesside, seeing the team to one promotion and another play-off final in the process.
Tempting Gibson away from former foe Sean Dyche could prove a tricky task. Loaning Gibson out would be admitting defeat with the £15 million transfer, but it is important for the players sake that he gets minutes under his belt so he can return to the type of defender he was whilst wearing the red and white of his boyhood club.
Getting Gibson in would be Woodgate’s ideal signing. He obviously still loves the club and has massive ties to the area and club, with his uncle being the owner and recently being made godfather to Adam Clayton’s newest child. This one will come down to the pennies and pounds of the contract.
Another Premier League loanee who Woodgate could be looking to add to his side, James Chester has experience both at Championship and Premier League level.
Chester was previously linked with a move to Teesside – before the former West Brom man made the move to Aston Villa in 2016 – but the deal never came to be.
With Aston Villa looking to strengthen other areas on the field following the injuries to Wesley and Tom Heaton, Chester could be used as a make-weight even for a permanent move. Having supposedly joined for around £8 million, how much would Villa be looking to recoup in any transfer?
One ‘left-field’ name that Middesbrough should consider signing is Accrington defender Ross Sykes. The former Burnley academy player has played 23 games in England’s third tier for Stanley this season and is rated just behind Fleetwood’s Lewie Coyle as the best rated defender in the league on WhoScored.com.
The defender, described by his manager as having an ‘insatiable appetite for success,’ isn’t currently valued on the football transfer website transfermarkt.com, but having captained the side on multiple occasions this season, one would think that a bid of around seven-figures could see Sykes depart the Wham Stadium.
This transfer would be another along the lines of Woodgate’s previous dealings with Marc Bola and Anfernee Dijksteel, but could present the same problems with the player possibly not being ready to play. It could, however, be a low risk high reward deal especially with players such as George Friend and Ryan Shotton out of contract in the summer, so Sykes could be able to fill their shoes in Boro’s backline.