TONY Mowbray refuses to be drawn on his interest in Hartlepool United goalkeeper Scott Flinders – but admits new faces are still his priority.
The Pools goalkeeper was the star man during Boro’s goalless draw at Victoria Park on Saturday, a second-half penalty save from Lucas Jutkiewicz among a host of other fine stops.
With the future of Jason Steele still the subject of some uncertainty, Flinders could well fit the bill were the England Under-21 netminder to move on.
Pools boss Colin Cooper insists that his No.1 is going nowhere, and that is a stance which former team-mate Mowbray respects.
“He was tremendous (on Saturday), but I think he was last year as well to be fair,” said Mowbray.
“He was great against us last year as well and is obviously a talented young goalkeeper.
“But it’s not for me to talk about Hartlepool’s goalkeeper, other than that he made some fantastic saves and did very well in one-on-one situations.”
Mowbray fielded what is arguably his strongest XI against Pools.
Although the Riverside chief says that he is in desperate need of reinforcements.
“I hope there’ll be players arriving,” he said.
“If you look at the team at the weekend, everybody apart from the goalkeeper and Woody (Jonathan Woodgate) got 90 minutes.
“Underneath that, we’ve got very, very young players.
“If I’d made changes at Hartlepool, they would have been young footballers under the age of 21 or 22.
“It’s imperative that if we’re going to try to sustain a Championship challenge this year, we need some depth to our squad.
“While the players on the pitch showed they can play as a unit and be competitive, we ultimately know that injuries and suspensions will come around the corner.
“To replace good players with good players is ultimately what football as a squad game is about.”
And, of the game, in which his side dominated the second period, Mowbray went on: “You’d expect it to be competitive playing against Hartlepool.
“It was a good game for both clubs. It was a good test for us and we created a lot of chances.
“At this stage of pre-season, I can give them a little bit of leeway for missing those chances.
“They should be battling against fatigue because they’re working very hard in training.
“They have got sore muscles. They do need to sharpen up that last little bit because there was some very good play.
“The opportunities we created was encouraging and there was another clean sheet defensively.
“There were positives. A lot of players got 90 minutes and that’s ultimately what pre-season is about, getting yourself fit and ready for two weeks time.”