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Boro working on a number of deadline day fronts
TONY MOWBRAY thinks the success of Middlesbrough's deadline day transfer negotiations could hinge on whether a selection of Premier League fringe players have accepted it is time to shine in the Championship.
After missing out on Ross McCormack, who signed a new four-year deal at Leeds United on Friday, and Tokelo Rantie, who was sold to Bournemouth earlier in the week by Malmo, Boro have been working on other fronts over the weekend.
Norwich City's Daniel Ayala is the preferred defensive target, while his Carrow Road team-mate Luciano Becchio is an attacking option to bring in as well as midfielder Jacob Butterfield.
But Hull City striker Matty Fryatt, a previous Middlesbrough target, has emerged as another realistic option and Mowbray has been making moves on players on the continent.
There remains a strong interest in Aston Villa's Stephen Ireland too, although a loan move for the £60,000-a-week man seems more likely. And Kansas City front-man Kei Kamara is a new name to emerge.
But whatever discussions have taken place in the last 48 hours, Mowbray is trying to remain hopeful he will have his deals concluded in advance of tonight's 11pm deadline.
"We've had several conversations,” said Mowbray, who is hoping there will not be an increased offer of more than £2m from Nottingham Forest for Grant Leadbitter today.
“We've spoken to clubs who've given us permission to speak to players. We've spoken to players who seem happy, then they want to go to the Premier League, but the Premier League doesn't come calling so they'll come back to us. I hope that one of them will drop out of the air for us.
"I hope I'm in my bed asleep at 11pm on Monday night, content we've signed a few players. If they don't come it won't be through lack of effort by the club trying to make it happen.”
The first five matches of the new Championship season have shown Middlesbrough – who could also offload Faris Haroun to Romania today - to be heading in the right direction.
Despite winning just one of those, they have drawn three and lost just once and have become more threatening since the opening day defeat to Leicester City was followed up with a Capital One Cup exit to Accrington.
But there is a shortage of options in the squad, which is why Mowbray is looking to recruit because he would prefer permanent additions rather than temporary deals when the emergency loan window opens in a week.
Full-back George Friend said: “The manager has made no mistake that we're after certain strikers. It's a shame we haven't brought anyone in yet, but there's still time.
“I know the manager and everyone are working really hard to bring someone in. He (Mowbray) has been honest enough to say that we need someone, and I really hope that we can.
“The Championship can be so demanding, so sometimes you need something different. Maybe an alternative striker, or a winger, because you can't ask Muzzy (Carayol) and Albert (Adomah) to run like they do every single game. I'm hoping we can bring someone in but if, for whatever reason, we don't I still think we'll be OK.”
After falling behind to Michail Antonio's hooked finish ten minutes before half-time against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, Middlesbrough recovered to level when Carayol turned in Lukas Jutkiewicz's cross shortly after the restart.
Boro could have won it after that when they created plenty of chances until the Owls almost grabbed a winner themselves in stoppage-time.
Mowbray was satisfied, even if he needs his team to be more potent in front of goal.
He said: “We're trying to build a team and I think our team is starting to take shape. It's taken us three years to get to having our own players who are buying into what we're trying to do.
"We want to add to that and there are dozens of available players, but we want to find the right ones.
"We created enough chances to win two or three games, but it wasn't to be. We have to learn how to break teams down and finish them off. Another day they will.
"We're trying to get some help, some extra players in. I can't ask Jutkiewicz to keep working like that every week, or the two wingers to run half marathons up and down the wing every game. We need some reinforcements.”
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