Neil Warnock’s side have won just three of their 11 games this campaign and suffered their fifth defeat at the hands of Hull City heading into the international break.
It has led to a growing disgruntlement at the Riverside as supporters begin to question whether or not the experienced Warnock is the right man for the job despite having guided the club to Championship safety upon his arrival at the end of the delayed 2019-20 season.
A 10th placed finish last year gave Boro fans cause for optimism heading into the new season that they could push on and look towards the Championship play-off places this time around but that, as yet, has failed to materialise.
Warnock has had to endure a rough time with injuries in the opening months of the campaign as a number of key defenders have led to the Boro boss being unable to settle on both a team and a formation.
Full-back’s Anfernee Dijksteel and Darnell Fisher remain injured along with concerns over centre back Dael Fry who went off in that defeat to Hull.
Left-back Marc Bola has also struggled with his fitness as Warnock declared the injury crisis ‘a mess’ before the international break.
But with the transfer window shut until January Warnock has little he can do to strengthen his side after admitting the challenges of bringing in free agents.
Warnock revealed he would love to add players to his squad – particularly down Boro’s left-hand-side – but conceded he may just have to ‘muck on’ with what he’s got as Boro prepare for a crunch double header at the Riverside in the space of three days when the Championship resumes next weekend.
Boro host two sides in the relegation zone in Peterborough United and Barnsley before a trip to struggling Cardiff City as Warnock looks to wrestle back control on Teesside.
But while Warnock may be concerned over the difficulties of bringing in free agents, we thought we would look at a number of defenders without a club who could potentially help the Boro boss between now and January.
A message from the Football Clubs Editor
Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Middlesbrough coverage 365 days a year.
This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.
Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor.
1. Robbie Brady
Brady and Boro have been linked quite heavily in recent weeks with Warnock admitting to the Irishman's talents. Brady has been without a club since failing to agree a new deal with Burnley in the summer and would provide some much needed competition and quality down Boro’s left-hand-side, albeit perhaps a more advanced role than the defensive requirements Warnock alluded to. Nevertheless, the former Manchester United academy star has plenty of experience in the Premier League and at international level and would be seen as smart business by Boro. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo: Clive Brunskill
2. Ahmed Elmohamady
In the absence of injured fullbacks Anfernee Dijksteel and Darnell Fisher - coupled with Djed Spence being loaned out to Nottingham Forest - right back is a problem area for Warnock at the moment and an area which Elmohamady could fill. While the Egyptian may be reaching the twilight of his career following his release from Aston Villa in the summer, the former Sunderland man would represent sensible business to take some of the burden off Lee Peltier. Elmohamady spent three years on Wearside so is no stranger to the North East. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby - Pool/Getty Images)
3. Branislav Ivanovic
The ex-Chelsea defender is a free agent after being released by West Brom in the summer but could offer Warnock some experience in defence - particularly if he reverts to three central defenders. Ivanovic struggled during his time at the Hawthorns but could he be the kind of experienced head in and around the squad Boro need? Wage demands and the players age would raise concerns. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo: Michael Regan
4. Marc Navarro
The 26-year-old is without a club since leaving Watford in the summer and can operate as a right back but also as a central defender. Navarro was sent out on loan to Leganes last season and made just 13 appearances for the Hornets during his three years at Vicarage Road. Convincing the Spaniard to drop down to Championship level could be an issue along with a distinct lack of game time over the last six years of his career. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Photo: Richard Heathcote