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Boro close in on Ayala as manager search continues
As Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson continues his search for a new manager, caretaker boss Mark Venus is close to signing Norwich City defender Daniel Ayala to ease the side’s defensive problems.
Boro shipped three goals to Barnsley on Saturday and with Jonathan Woodgate and Rhys Williams struggling for fitness, Gibson has given the green light for Venus to bring in reinforcements.
Ayala has been on Boro’s radar for some time and after failing to land the central defender in the summer, it appears Venus has gone back in for the 22-year-old.
The temporary manager, who is understood to be a candidate to take over from Mowbray on a permanents basis, takes his first training session since the 49-year-old’s dismissal this morning and will be in charge for Friday’s televised home clash with Doncaster Rovers.
Nigel Clough and Stuart Pearce are both candidates, while Tony Pulis and Paul Jewell are also in the running, but the Boro chairman insists he will take his time in appointing a new manager, and could yet decide to shake things up further by changing the management structure with the option of bringing in a director of football being considered.
But for now, Venus must prepare the squad for Friday’s crunch clash. Midfielder Mustapha Carayol admits the players, who walked off to a chorus of boos at half time on Saturday, need to put things right starting with a win against Doncaster.
“The message from the lads would be that we understand their frustration and as football players we’ve got to deliver performances for them to cheer about,” Carayol said.
“I hope they get behind us on Friday and we can put a show on like we did against Yeovil. It’s an opportunity to put this right and you’ve always got to look to the next game to do that. Even if we just get a result and put some points on board for them that would be good.
“The guys were demanding a lot from each other in the dressing room. I felt the second half performance was better and we looked like we were playing on the front foot.
“Everyone is disappointed. We always want to go out and win but we know you can’t win all the time and the way Barnsley came out they deserved to win, but I guess we’ve just got to leave this one and look forward.”
Carayol, who Mowbray brought to the club in 2012, was a 67th minute substitute at Oakwell and the 25-year-old made an instant impact down the left wing.
The Gambian-born winger hopes his cameo appearance has put him in contention to start on Friday night and admits he feels could make a big impact playing to the touchline.
He said: “I hope that performance will put me in the frame to start on Friday. I want to play all the time, but that’s football you don’t expect to play every game of the season, but I was happy to be out there and playing as an out and out winger and doing what I like which is being in one-on-one positions.
“I’ll always try to set up the strikers and we’ll just have to see on Friday whether I get a run out.”
Meanwhile, former Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate admits it was sad to see Mowbray go, but admits results had made it a difficult decision for the Boro chairman.
He said: “It is a great shame for Tony because nobody would have been prouder to manage Middlesbrough than him.
“In a similar way to myself there, results dictate and, ultimately, I am sure it would have been a difficult decision for the chairman to take because he respected Tony enormously.”