KIERON Dyer will sign a pay-as-you-play deal with Middlesbrough in the next 48 hours, with Tony Mowbray insisting the former England international is still capable of being a match-winning midfielder in the Championship.
Mowbray held one-on-one talks with Dyer, who was released from his previous contract with QPR at the start of the transfer window, last week.
The 34-year-old has made 47 appearances in the last five-and-a-half seasons, with a succession of hamstring problems sandwiching the broken leg in 2007 that effectively wrecked his career at West Ham United before it had really started.
He claims to be match fit now having scored in his final QPR appearance against West Brom at the start of the month, and has agreed to a deal that will see the vast majority of his wages be determined by his appearance record in the remainder of the season.
When Dyer has played in the last three seasons, it has generally been at right-back, but despite the hip injury that will keep Justin Hoyte on the sidelines for the next two months, Mowbray has signed the former Newcastle United favourite primarily to play in midfield.
“Nothing is finalised yet, there's no pen put to paper, but it could be exciting for us,” said the Middlesbrough manager, who watched a stoppage-time strike from Lukas Jutkiewicz secure a 2-1 victory over Aldershot in the FA Cup fourth round at the weekend. “On his good day, he can changes games through his speed, his dribbling ability, releasing the ball at the right time and his power.
“He's not in his middle 20s like he was at Newcastle, but watching the footage of him from this season and seeing the way he was chasing Gareth Bale and matching him, the Championship could be somewhere where he could flourish.
“I think Dyer playing in the Championship will be very different to Dyer playing for QPR in the Premier League. I haven't signed him to play at right-back, although there might be a scenario where we need him to do a job there for us, I see him playing further up the pitch, playing between the lines.
“From a very early age, Kieron knew when to run, when to stand still and knew which areas to put the ball in. He's been abroad after leaving QPR to clear his head and we just managed to pick something up last week. We'll see if we can conclude something in the early part of (this) week.”
Mowbray was still a player with Ipswich Town when Dyer made his senior debut in 1996. They spent three years together at Portman Road before Dyer made a £6.5m move to Newcastle.
However, his time in the North-East was not without controversy as he once refused to play out of position for Robson – ironically ahead of a game at Boro's Riverside Stadium – and was involved in the infamous punch-up that saw both him and team-mate Lee Bowyer dismissed during a game against Aston Villa.
His career since leaving Tyneside in August 2007 has featured a succession of injury setbacks, and Mowbray has been at pains to stress that this week's deal will not result in a significant financial burden. Even if Dyer plays and is successful, he will not be earning anything like the £20,000-a-match appearance fee he was reported to be receiving at QPR.
“If we can get him on the field, he'll be a big asset,” said Mowbray. “If we don't get him on the field, then he isn't going to cost us much money at all. It'll be a deal that suits both parties, but I've spoken to Kieron and he really just wants to come and play.
“Assuming he is fit and ready to play, we'll have to manage his working week and try to get him on the field on a Saturday. He's not going to be able to play three games a week, but we know that.
“I've always liked him. He was breaking in as a 17-year-old boy when I was a player in my late 30s and he was some footballer as a young man.
“He knows myself, he knows (assistant manager) Mark Venus and he knows Woody (Jonathan Woodgate) very well from his time at Newcastle. I think he'd like to come and help us.”
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