FORMER Middlesbrough defender Gary Pallister thinks Aitor Karanka will have ‘rising expectations’ to deal with at the Riverside Stadium next season.

Karanka enjoyed a relatively successful first seven months in charge on Teesside by lifting Boro clear of relegation trouble and up towards a play-off spot.

In the end the Spaniard was unable to seal a top six spot but he improved the team’s defensive solidity and towards the end of the campaign Middlesbrough started to score more goals.

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Now Karanka is working on ways of adding to his squad, having seen key members such as Kenneth Omeruo, Nathaniel Chalobah and Danny Graham return to parent clubs following loan deals.

The Middlesbrough boss, who has already secured goalkeeper Tomas Mejias on a two-year deal, is seeking a couple of new defenders and forwards during the summer, while he will also be exploring other areas to improve his squad.

And Pallister, who retired following a second spell at the club he supported as a boy in 2001, thinks Karanka’s good work last season could lead to a better campaign if he is given the right backing from above.

He said: “I'm sure he will be looking to tinker with his squad, I think he'll want to bring in a few of his own players. He managed to bring in a couple of signings and loanees last season and I think he will want to change things a little bit more now he's had the chance to assess his squad and had a look at where he wants to get them to.

“Hopefully there will be a few quid available to go and spend and he will then have his own squad. I think there were signs at the end of the season that things were getting better and I'm sure the players and the fans alike will go into this new season with … expectations.”

After missing out on Lewis Grabban and Adam Le Fondre already this summer - after they moved to Norwich and Cardiff respectively - Middlesbrough are pursuing other attacking leads on the transfer front.

Ex-Middlesbrough forward Tuncay Sanli has been linked with a fresh return to the Riverside after becoming a free agent. The 32-year-old has previously expressed his wish to one day return to the club after leaving following relegation in 2009. The former Turkey international was playing for Bursaspor last season after a spell with Fenerbahce.