Whitehead confident Boro will score goals - but admits more signings are needed (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Whitehead confident Boro will score goals - but admits more signings are needed
DEAN WHITEHEAD is confident Middlesbrough will carry a goal threat next season, but the summer signing admits there is a need to make further additions before the Championship campaign begins.
With Scott McDonald’s departure expected to be formally confirmed within the next 24 hours, Boro officials remain hopeful of adding up to three new players before the weekend.
Portuguese attacking midfielder Vitor is a leading target, and the Pacos de Ferreira play-maker is expected to leave his homeland to make a second visit to Boro's Rockliffe Park training ground within the next couple of days.
Portuguese media outlets had suggested that his agent, Jorge Mendes, was attempting to secure improved terms for the 29-year-old, but a deal is understood to be close to completion.
Vitor trained with the rest of the Pacos de Ferreira squad yesterday, but while he has been named in the provisional squad for this evening's friendly with Newcastle United, he is not expected to take part in the game.
Boro have also held discussions with Napoli striker Eduardo Vargas, who is currently on loan at Brazilian side Gremio, and Atletico Madrid forward Borja Gonzales as they look to strengthen their attacking resources for next season.
At the moment, Lukas Jutkewicz, Marvin Emnes and the injured Curtis Main are the only forwards on Middlesbrough’s books, and Tony Mowbray’s ability to give his strikers a rest is severely limited ahead of this evening’s friendly with Rotherham United.
Whitehead admits the squad is stretched in the wake of Saturday’s draw at Hartlepool, but insists there is enough of an attacking threat to engender optimism ahead of the Championship kick-off in 11 days time.
“We have good players and are a threat going forward,” said the Boro midfielder, who joined as a free agent this summer following his release from Stoke City. “Muzzy Carayol can tear anyone apart, and Marvin is the same. Juke (Jutkiewicz) will score goals in this league, and Grant (Leadbitter) is a good threat as well.
“We’ve got a good solid side and hopefully we can stay clear of injuries and have a good run at it this year. We’ve got to be looking to get in the top six. We have the players here to do that, although the squad is quite small at the moment so I’m sure the manager is trying to bring a few in.”
Whitehead is one of only two players to have moved to the Riverside this summer – Hungarian Jozsef Varga is the other – and the former Sunderland midfielder is expected to form a combative central pairing alongside Leadbitter.
Boro have turned down two separate offers from Nottingham Forest for Leadbitter, and Whitehead claims it is easy to see why the Wearsider is in such high demand.
“Grant is a good player, that’s why people want him,” he said. “Hopefully I can help to bring him on and let him score more goals.”
Having named virtually the same side in last week’s game at Morecambe and Saturday’s draw at Hartlepool, Mowbray will make changes this evening.
Saturday’s home game with Bordeaux is regarded as the main fixture in terms of fine-tuning preparations for the opening Championship game against Leicester City, so some of Mowbray’s more fringe performers will be given an opportunity to impress tonight.
“Some players who didn’t get on the pitch at Hartlepool will play at Rotherham,” confirmed the Boro boss. “The likes of Richie Smallwood, Adam Reach and Emmanuel Ledesma will be involved, and will get as close to 90 minutes as they can.
“We’ll give some of the more senior players a sit on the bench, and then go into Bordeaux with as close to a team for the following weekend as we can.”
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