Boro boss draws up January transfer targets
TONY MOWBRAY and his backroom team drew up a list of possible transfer targets yesterday in the hope Middlesbrough's squad can be freshened up next month. With the squad given a couple of days off before back-to-back Christmas training sessions ahead of Boxing Day's visit of Nottingham Forest, Mowbray took time to assess his options. The Boro boss is keen for the likes of David Wheater, Gary O'Neil and Kris Boyd to be moved on, in the hope it will increase his own transfer budget aimed at putting his own stamp on the squad he inherited. Andrew Davies has been training with Boro from Stoke City in the last fortnight, while Jeremie Aliadiere would also be open to negotiations if Mowbray decided to push through a deal. We are in a situation where we are not sitting with a lot of transfer targets, he said. The potential is that we will offload one or two to create a hole in the budget. We have to wheel and deal. If my phone rings then we might have to fill the holes in January. The staff are watching players, deciding which ones are available. Hopefully that can get the job done. That's why we have been in looking at players, planning for if we can bring in that player or that player. When you get your club as you want it you can tinker with a few positions. While it's not a case of everybody out and bringing some new ones in, I think there will be a fair bit of movement in the next few windows. Despite strong interest from Aston Villa, Birmingham, Bolton, Wolves and West Ham for O'Neil, and the likes of Sunderland, Newcastle, Wolves and Everton thinking about signing Wheater, Mowbray insists there have been no firm offers for any of his players. But Mowbray expects that to change during January, although he can't afford to bank on any of his preferred departures being completed before the window closes at the end of next month. If the directors' box is full of other clubs' managers, everyone assumes they are watching David, he said. We have to just concentrate on the situation we have. The phone has not rung and I have not had discussions about David or the rest of the team. I expect that to happen more in late January. Mowbray does not expect to be given much of the seven-figure sum which the club have secured as part of a three-year shirt sponsorship deal with Ramsdens, the largest independent pawnbroker in the UK. The club's chief operating officer, Neil Bausor, however, said: Any revenue we can generate goes straight into the playing aspirations. As much as we can generate commercially helps the club moving forward. It won't answer all of our challenges but hopefully it will help this club move back up the table. Midfielder Nicky Bailey will train for the first time this week today after recovering from the groin problem which prevented him from playing at Doncaster a week ago. Ahead of a crucial run of festive fixtures that will determine just how likely a relegation fight is come May, Mowbray said: The players have had a couple of days off but will be training Christmas Day. They will be having Christmas dinner with their families, but hopefully they will have a sprout or two less than everyone else. The lads' friends might have parties to go to, but footballers need to go to bed. They have to perform at their maximum.
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