Middlesbrough coach admits they have been forced to change their loan policy this summer
Middlesbrough have been forced to re-evaluate their loan policy this summer due to a lack of numbers in the first-team squad.
Boro were keen to make a few more signings before the end of the transfer window earlier this month yet moves failed to materialise.
As a consequence, some of the club’s young prospects won’t be going out on loan this season, even though League One and League Two clubs can still make signings before Monday, September 2.
Woodgate confirmed last week that goalkeeper Aynsley Pears, Connor Malley, Nathan Wood and Stephen Walker will definitely be staying put.
Boro’s under-23s boss Graeme Lee has regular conversations with the first-team staff and says the club’s strategy has altered.
When asked about players potentially leaving on loan, Lee told the Mail: “We’ve got a few playing games at the moment, we’ve got a couple down to go on loan, their pathways won’t change.
“But we have had to re-evaluate who has to stay because the first-team squad is not massive. The 23s squad now, if we lose any more players, I think we’re down to 14, 15.
“What we don’t want to do is push our best players out on loan when the first team need bodies and they’re not there available.”
Boro have already sent four outfield players, Sam Stubbs, Enes Mahmutovic, Mitchell Curry and Tyrone O’Neill, out on loan to gain more game time this summer.
Even so, with opportunities to train with the first team, Lee also believes staying at the Riverside will help players’ development.
“From day one I think we had 12 to 15, including keepers, who trained with the first team for a very good chunk of pre-season and one by one they started coming back,” Lee adds.
“Some have still been training with them, Stephen Walker at the moment has been with them for a couple of weeks and been involved on a matchday which is brilliant. Nathan Wood has been in and out with the first team and has played games for us.”
“The pathways are growing all the time and there are opportunities for the lads, it’s just down to them to step up and catch the eye.”