AITOR KARANKA’S wish to sign a new striker is set to be granted in the next 48 hours after Middlesbrough allowed Lukas Jutkiewicz to join Bolton Wanderers.
Jutkiewicz is expected to complete a loan deal until the end of the season today after the Trotters sold David N’gog to Swansea City.
His departure, albeit temporary for now, will free up funds for Karanka to sign a replacement striker and it is understood the Boro boss has now been given the green light to sign at least one of his targets.
Genk’s Jelle Vossen remains high on his wanted list, although the £4m price-tag quoted means a move for the Belgian would hinge on funds being raised through additional player sales.
ON HIS WAY: Boro striker Lukas Jutkiewciz, in action against Leicester at the weekend, is set for Bolton Wanderers
Rhys Williams, Grant Leadbitter and Mustapha Carayol, who was the subject of a bid from Brighton that Boro swiftly rejected, have all attracted interest this month, but Karanka is keen to avoid losing any of those players and will only do so as a last resort.
It is understood Boro will move quickly once Jutkiewicz’s switch is complete and loan moves for Kevin Doyle, Luciano Becchio and Danny Graham are all being explored.
Boro, who are reportedly in advanced talks with Wolves over a possible deal for Doyle, have stepped up their attempts to sign a replacement, but Karanka revealed any future incomings are likely to happen after tonight’s game against Wigan at the Riverside.
“We are working on several names in several positions and I have the same thoughts that I had at the beginning,” said Karanka, who will be without the injured Jonathan Woodgate this evening but will have George Friend available despite the birth of his first child yesterday.
“We won’t have anyone in for the Wigan game, because I have the team in my head. If someone arrives I don’t think he will be involved in the squad.
“It might be one of them (Becchio, Doyle or Graham), but I can’t tell you which one. There are a lot of rumours at the moment, but all I can say is we are working to get one of them in.”
Karanka has already signed Chelsea duo Kenneth Omeruo and Nathanial Chalobah on loan deals, but the Boro boss admits bringing in a striker has proved more difficult this month.
He said: “It is difficult to find one player who can get you 10-15 goals or more a season in this market. We are working on some names, but it is important that the player who comes in can not only score goals, but even more importantly it is important they fit into the dressing room.
“The secret to success in this squad in the atmosphere in the dressing room and around the training ground and any player that comes in must be part of that.”
“It is hard to get players in this market. You need to move very quickly. At this moment I don’t know the market 100 per cent which makes it difficult but the club is working very hard and I have a lot of people supporting me and explaining a lot of things about the players to me.”
Jutkiewicz has struggled to make an impact this season, scoring only twice in 24 appearances for the Teessiders.
The 24-year-old missed two great chances to put his side ahead at Leicester City on Saturday and Karanka admits the striker needs a fresh start to re-gain his confidence in front of goal.
“Lukas is a player that needs to get some confidence back, like any striker,” Karanka said. “We spoke with him and wanted to make the best choice for everybody. He needs to play to get some confidence back.”
Williams continues to be linked with a move away from the Riverside with Swansea City extremely interested, but Karanka has urged the defender to ignore the speculation and focus on tonight’s game.
The Boro boss said: “Rhys is my player and I hope that he is focused on the game. It is good that teams at the highest level are interested in one of my players but for now he is here and I want him to be 100 per cent focused on the game.”
Karanka gave new boy Chalobah a second half debut at the King Power Stadium and the 19-year-old believes he has joined the right club to aid his development.
“I’m here to do the best that I can,” Chalobah said. “I want to improve as a player and I think I’m at the right place.
“For me, it’s more about helping the team. It’s not a case where I’ve come here to play for myself, I want to do well for the team and have a good work put in for me when I go back to Chelsea.”