AITOR KARANKA is tipping Lee Tomlin to make an immediate impact after the striker completed a permanent move from Peterborough United yesterday.
Having initially joined Middlesbrough on a season-long loan on transfer-deadline day at the end of last month, Tomlin’s switch has been converted into a permanent deal as a clause in the initial agreement allowed for a change in status even though the transfer window is closed.
The 25-year-old has signed a three-and-a-half year deal with Boro, and moves for an undisclosed fee which is understood to be around £1.5m.
The Teessiders had wanted to sign him permanently on deadline day, but were unable to complete a medical in time for a deal to be rubber-stamped.
Tomlin is still to make his Middlesbrough debut as a dismissal in his final game as a Peterborough player meant he moved to the Riverside with a suspension hanging over him.
However, he has now completed his ban and is set to go straight into the squad for Saturday’s televised home game with Leeds United.
Boro could do with some attacking impetus after failing to score in five successive matches, and having worked with Tomlin at close quarters on the training ground, Karanka is looking forward to seeing the forward in action with the first team.
“It’s good because it’s a new attacking player, and that can only help us,” said the Boro boss. “He is a player that I asked for in the last transfer window, and it will be good to have him available and in the team.
“He needs to understand how important he could be for the team, but he also needs to understand how difficult it is to play in this team because we always want to get better and win. Hopefully, having him around will make it easier for us to do that.”
Tomlin played the opening 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly with Burnley yesterday to help ensure his match sharpness for Saturday’s game.
Stuart Parnaby and Andre Bennett were injured in the game, but Jason Steele played the full 90 minutes as he made his return from a three-month injury lay off.
The goalkeeper, who required surgery after damaging his ankle in November, could hardly have made a timelier comeback as Shay Given will play the final game of his loan spell from Aston Villa this weekend.
Boro desperately need to get their season back on track with a win over Leeds, as since the middle of January they have claimed just three points from a possible 15, a run that seen them tumble back into the bottom half of the table.
Reading’s weekend win over QPR means they are 11 points adrift of a play-off place, but Danny Graham insists it is too early to write them out of the promotion race.
It would take a remarkable run to lift Karanka’s side back into play-off contention in the final 15 games of the season, but Graham feels the unpredictability of the Championship could yet work in their favour.
“I think it’s too early to be writing things off,” said the striker, who also moved to the Riverside on transfer-deadline day. “The Championship is a crazy league, and you can go on all sorts of crazy runs.
“We have to keep believing – there’s no point giving up in football. I know for a fact that the lads in the dressing room won’t be giving up on anything because there are some big characters in there. We’ll definitely be giving it our best shot, but we definitely need to start winning games sooner rather than later.”