Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Set for a Summer of Transfer Action

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Set for a Summer of Transfer Action

Article excerpt

BORO fans who love transfer speculation should be in for an exciting summer.

There are going to be major comings and goings as Tony Mowbray gives his first team squad a much-needed overhaul.

It's too early to say who'll be coming in, though Boro have plenty of irons in fires thanks to an impressively extensive scouting network.

But it's not too early to say who'll be leaving.

The current squad can be broken down into four categories: Players who look nailed on to start most games next season, those who'll be in the squad but not guaranteed to start, players out of contract and, finally, those who may be moved on if buyers can be found.

Let's start with those who look likely to feature in Mowbray's starting line-up for the first game of next season.

Jason Steele will be Boro's first choice keeper barring injury or an offer the club simply can't refuse.

He's maturing into a to quality goalie - last Saturday's rare blip notwithstanding - and is probably the first name on the team-sheet every week.

Justin Hoyte will be first choice right-back while George Friend will no doubt start on the opposite flank, though his form so far this year has been less than impressive and he'll need to up his game.

In the middle will be Rhys Williams and, you'd have to think, Jonathan Woodgate when fit.

But Mowbray is worried about the affect Woodgate's frequent, injury-enforced absences are having on a defence that's been breached far too often this season.

The manager believes a full pre-season will give his experienced defender every chance of being fit to play week-in, week-out.

In midfield and up front, there are a few certainties.

Grant Leadbitter will surely be the heartbeat of the engine room but who plays alongside him is far from clear.

And a fit Lukas Jutkiewicz is expected to lead the line but, again, who'll partner him is open to debate.

The Juke's injury record has been poor over the past 18 months and his fitness issues need addressing because he has the attributes to be a fantastic asset.

That leaves five gaps to fill and those hoping to be chosen find themselves in the 'probables' category. …

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