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Mowbray not in a position to make additions to his squad
TONY Mowbray has confirmed he will not be adding to his Middlesbrough squad before the transfer window closes on Thursday night.
Barry Robson is training with Boro's first-team squad following his release from Vancouver Whitecaps, but Mowbray will not be making a contract offer to last season's Player of the Year.
The Boro boss was linked with a possible loan move for Stewart Downing prior to the transfer window opening, and while the England international now looks certain to remain at Liverpool following his rehabilitation under Brendan Rodgers, three league defeats in a row have highlighted some potential deficiencies in the Teessiders' squad.
Nevertheless, having been granted the funds to sign ten players since the end of last season, Mowbray accepts that he will not be in a position to sign anyone else this month.
"A certain amount of money became available at the end of last season when we let 12 players go, but we had to build a new team," he said. "We spent as much of the money as we could to bring in the likes of (Grant) Leadbitter, (Mustapha) Carayol and (Emmanuel) Ledesma, and moved on.
"You get to a point where you feel comfortable you've got enough players and you've spent the money that's available. Come January, unless people go out, it's very difficult to go back to the chairman and say, 'Can you dig into your pocket again to bring more people in'?
"By that time, you can see the areas of the pitch where the team might need strengthening, but there's only a certain amount of money available."
Robson represents a cut-price option in terms of strengthening the midfield, although the Scotsman's wages would still take Boro's weekly expenditure above the level Mowbray is attempting to work to.
The arrival of Grant Leadbitter and Josh McEachran has removed the need for another player of Robson's ilk, while the 34-year-old's level of match fitness would have to be debatable given his lack of involvement since the end of the MLS season.
As a result, Mowbray will not be offering him a playing contract, even though he did not hesitate to agree to the midfielder's request to train at Boro's Rockliffe Park headquarters.
Robson is expected to continue training with Boro's first-team squad until his family are successfully relocated from Canada, although Scottish Premier League side Dundee are understood to have inquired about his services.
"Signing him is not something we've discussed," said Mowbray. "Barry was at pains to stress that he wasn't coming back looking for a contract. From my perspective, it's not something that's crossed my mind.
"We've got a new team and built a new squad. Barry's salary from last year has been spent. All these things come into the equation. Barry got a fantastic deal in Vancouver, but for whatever reason it didn't work out.
"As the club that he left, we have moved on and changed the team around quite a bit from last year. Like some clubs in the Premier League, there's not a pit full of money we can keep dipping our hands in to bring players in. We have to manage the books and look carefully at that. At the minute, Barry is just here training."
While Robson builds up his fitness, the rest of Boro's squad are completing their preparations for tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round tie with League Two Aldershot.
Justin Hoyte will play no part in the game as he visited a specialist in London yesterday to undergo a series of scans on his injured hip.
Scott McDonald is unlikely to be risked after a long-standing back problem reemerged in the closing stages of last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Leicester, while McEachran will remain on the sidelines because his parent club, Chelsea, are still in the FA Cup.
There is no suggestion of the midfielder being recalled to Stamford Bridge before the end of the month, but out of courtesy, Boro will not select him for their fourth-round tie.
Carayol and Curtis Main have both returned to full training and will be part of the development side that plays a league fixture at Chelsea tonight.
"We were supposed to play a development game against Sunderland on Monday, but the snow put an end to that," said Mowbray. "Had he (Carayol) played in that game, I would hope to have had him on the bench at the weekend.
"He's been out for four months now, so the sensible thing is to give him a game for the under-21s and make sure his knee feels fine and that mentally he can come through it."