AITOR KARANKA is keen to reduce the size of his Middlesbrough squad this month, but that has not stopped him from considering new attacking options.
Despite hopes that Kei Kamara will be available again after knee trouble for this Saturday’s visit of Charlton, the Boro boss has been weighing up the merits of Kevin Doyle, Luciano Becchio and Ruben Rochina.
There are other strikers under consideration too as Karanka considers where Middlesbrough could need a different option to arrive before the transfer window closes on January 31.
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Doyle is the latest name to have emerged on the Middlesbrough radar, with Wolves still keen to move the centre-forward on to ease their financial situation.
Wolves sit third in League One and are in with a decent chance of promotion back to the Championship this season, but there remains a preference to get Doyle’s Premier League salary off their budget.
Middlesbrough would not want to take over the full extent of the 29-year-old’s weekly wage either, although there have been suggestions of a potential swap deal to lessen the hit.
The wage situation is similar to that facing Middlesbrough if they decide to pursue their strong interest in Becchio.
His move to Norwich City from Leeds United earned him a significant pay rise, but Middlesbrough’s interest in the Argentine forward has never waned despite the changing manager at the Riverside Stadium.
The alternative option remains Blackburn forward Rochina, with Rovers known to have expressed an interest in Lukas Jutkiewicz in the past.
Kamara’s return to first team training has at least given Karanka increased options for this weekend, provided there are no late set-backs in training before the Addicks match.
The former Sporting Kansas City forward was a key player before his injury and since then Jutkiewcz and Curtis Main have both led the line.
It was Jutkiewicz’s turn again at Blackpool on Saturday when he was replaced in the closing stages of the 2-0 win by his younger team-mate.
Main, the former Darlington forward, scored his first goal in approaching a year when he found the net in the 2-2 draw at Bolton on New Year’s Day.
And the 21-year-old is keen to keep proving to Karanka that he deserves to stay in and around the first team after spending the first few months of the season at Shrewsbury – regardless of any new signings.
Main said: “Every chance I get I am happy to do a job for the team. I have started to hit a bit of form and I would like it to continue.
“Me and Lukas have come in and been in and out as the No 9. We are happy to be playing. That's our position and what we want to do well there and prove we can stay there.
“There’s no doubt I have featured more since this manager came in, I must be doing something right in his eyes. Hopefully I can stay in his plans.
“I have had a few chats with him, I'm playing so he thinks I can do a job for the team. It's a new manager, with his own ideas, he will have a look at what he has got and he obviously likes a bit of what he sees from me, so I have to keep it going.”