FRENCH midfielder Malaury Martin edged a step nearer to making his stint at Middlesbrough a permanent arrangement after appearing in a friendly last night.
The former Under-21 international emerged as a second half substitute in Boro's 3-2 victory in Croatia against Varazdin.
Martin, released by Blackpool after struggling to force his way in to their team after injury, travelled out to Middlesbrough's training camp in Slovakia on Saturday.
He was handed a half an hour cameo appearance against the Croatian cup finalists after being told by manager Tony Mowbray that he has impressed enough to be handed a contract.
And following the departures of Kris Boyd, Didier Digard and Andrew Taylor, Mowbray is almost in a position to start to think about making his own additions albeit players who are on considerably less money.
But he looks set to miss out on Roda winger Anouar Hadouir, who is edging closer towards a move to Feyenoord after Boro's failure to push through a quick deal following last month's talks.
By the time Martin, who has been training with the squad since pre-season started at the end of June, had entered the field against Varazdin last night it was 2-2.
Middlesbrough scored first last night. Rhys Williams' run forward ended with Varazdin defender Simek Karlo's attempt to beat Scott McDonald to the ball being turned beyond his own goalkeeper from eight yards out.
Danny Coyne, who played 65 minutes from the start in the absence of the injured Jason Steele, made a couple of stops to deny the home team before Leroy Lita turned Justin Hoyte's delivery over the line on 28 minutes.
With Middlesbrough 2-0 up, Mowbray must have felt an easy win was on the cards.
But two minutes later Coyne was deemed to have brought down Davor Vugrinec and the striker slotted in the penalty.
And seven minutes after halftime it was level when Mark Trojak stylishly found the net from a tight angle to lift the home support.
But Middlesbrough emerged as winners, with Matthew Bates scoring a delightful chip over the goalkeeper to round off a fantastic move that also involved Tony McMahon and Lee Miller.
MIDDLESBROUGH: Coyne (Ripley 65); Hoyte (McMahon 65), Bates, McManus, Grounds (Bennett 65); Franks (Williams L 60), Williams R (Martin 60), Bailey (Smallwood 60), Kink (Reach 60); Lita (Main 73), McDonald (Miller 73).