Middlesbrough set for busy January with Championship and Premier League interest in forwards

Middlesbrough are poised for a busy January as Tony Pulis looks to turn around a slump in form with a squad revamp.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 4:10 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 4:18 pm
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

Boro have slipped to sixth in the Championship ahead of the weekend trip to strugglers Reading, who sit just outside the relegation places.

Pulis is keen to bolster his attacking options next month, with pacy wingers and another forward high on his wishlist.

To do that, departures will be necessary and there is interest in three Boro forwards, with a couple likely to leave.

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Martin Braithwaite is wanted by Swansea City, Ipswich Town are tracking Rudy Gestede while there is Premier League interest in Britt Assombalonga.

Ipswich boss Paul Lambert admitted he hopes Town will be busy, with Gestede understood to be a target.

Lambert said: “We have to try and get a few in on that first (of January) to give us some help, that’s for sure.

“We don’t want to prolong it. We’ll try and get them in.

“We’ve identified guys that will hopefully come in and if we do get them in it will be a lot stronger.”

Meanwhile, Assombalonga is a target for Crystal Palace though the £15million price tag may prove a stumbling block.

A swap deal involving Connor Wickham has been suggested.

Meanwhile, Stewart Downing believes his Middlesbrough teammates must be willing to stand up and be counted as they look to push towards the top two.

Recent results have seen Boro slip to 6th in the Championship - eight points behind second-placed Norwich and nine away from leaders Leeds - while Tuesday’s Carabao Cup defeat to League One side Burton has heaped pressure on the squad.

And Downing, ahead of Saturday’s 3pm KO at Reading, has called on the other experienced heads in the dressing room to stand up and lead the side out of the rocky patch.

“We have to keep working hard,” he admitted. “There is no point sulking, that is not going to help.

“We have got a lot of experienced players in the dressing room, and they will have to stand up and help the young lads through.

“We are in a time when ‘stick’ will be thrown and blame; whatever it is, and you have to come through that. It happens.

“When confidence is down and you are getting a bit of stick from the fans, that’s when you have to stand up.”