LUKAS JUTKIEWICZ could have a future at Middlesbrough according to head coach Aitor Karanka, but several Championship clubs remain in the hunt to sign the striker.
Having struggled to find form in the first half of the season, Karanka allowed Jutkiewicz to join Bolton Wanderers on loan in January.
The 25-year-old had managed only two goals in 24 appearances for the Teessiders, but he rediscovered his goal scoring touch at the Reebok Stadium, notching seven times in 20 games.
That form has attracted interest from a number of clubs in the Championship, including Derby, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton, who are keen to sign the striker on a permanent deal after his impressive loan spell, but so far no one has met Boro’s asking price, which is understood to be in the region of £1.5m.
Jutkiewicz returned to pre-season training with the rest of the squad on Monday and while his future on Teesside remains uncertain, Karanka hinted earlier this week that the revitalised front man could still be in his plans for the new season.
The Northern Echo understands, however, that if a bid matching Boro’s valuation is made, Jutkiewicz would probably move on, but as things stand the Boro head coach is happy for the former Coventry City man to stay.
“He’s training very well and he got his confidence back at Bolton last season,” Karanka said. “I’m happy with him. Everyone told me at the time that Juke was scoring goals at Bolton and we weren’t scoring, but for me it was a very good decision to let him go because he needed to recover his confidence.
“He’s not a new player, obviously, but I have seen a different Lukas on the training pitch. He’s scoring goals and he is happy. He is my player now, but in the future you never know. For now, he is here.”
Karanka is in the market for at least one striker having lost Danny Graham and Marvin Emnes, who completed his permanent move to Swansea City on Wednesday night.
The Dutch striker signed a three-year deal at the Liberty Stadium, and the Boro head coach admitted the move was best for all involved.
He said: “He needed the change. He needed to change not his mentality, but his mood because he is a good player, he played in the Premier League with Swansea last season.
“But he was with me just two months and it was clear we needed to change as he was in a mood which was difficult for him, he wasn't comfortable and for this reason I think this move is better for everybody.”
Middlesbrough have handed young midfielder Ryan Brobbel a new one-year deal after he impressed during a loan spell at York City.
The Hartlepool-born player’s current contract expired this summer, but Boro have handed him another chance to impress at the Riverside.