Tony Pulis reveals Middlesbrough's 'enormous' transfer problem as they pile pressure on Leeds and Norwich

Jonny Howson in action for Middlesbrough against Ipswich. Picture by Martin Swinney
Jonny Howson in action for Middlesbrough against Ipswich. Picture by Martin Swinney

Middlesbrough have closed the gap on promotion rivals Leeds and Norwich - but face an 'enormous' challenge in the transfer window.

Goals from Jordan Hugill and Marcus Tavernier saw Boro seal a 2-0 win over Ipswich Town as they cut the gap on the top two - who both lost out in the final fixture of 2018.

After a cagey opening period, Hugill opened the scoring from the penalty spot after he was hauled down in the area by Jordan Spence.

And the lead was doubled with just under 20 minutes remaining when substitute Tavernier saw his shot somehow found a way past Dean Gerken.

Victory saw Boro cut the gap between themselves and the promotion places to just six points, with talk now turning to the upcoming transfer window.

Winger Rajiv Van La Parra was in the stands, with a deal for the Huddersfield winger set to be completed in the coming days, but Pulis knows he will have to work to reduce the club's 'enormous' wage bill in order to bring in further new faces.

Speaking in his programme notes, the Middlesbrough boss said: "The transfer window opens in a just a few days time and everyone understands that we need to address certain areas.

"But it's not just ins, it's players going out that is also important.

"It's always been my own policy to work alongside the financial side of all the clubs I've managed.

"This club has an enormous wage bill that has to be addressed.

"The chairman has always backed the manager, but there comes a time when reality has to click in and I will again strive to get the balance right.

"Years ago, you knew you'd have the time as a manager.

"In year one you could look at things, second year clear things out, and in the third year you could try to push on.

"I'm not daft enough to think that you get that time now. I've been happy with a lot of the things we have done over the past year, but there are still things that need sorting out."

Boro face Derby County on New Years' Day, with the Rams having claimed a dramatic victory at title-chasing Norwich in their last outing.

A deal for Van La Parra is not expected to be finalised in time for him to feature against Frank Lampard's side.