GARRY MONK cancelled a scheduled day off for his Middlesbrough players on Monday and had them back on the training ground in a bid to address the slump which has piled more pressure on him.

Boro’s position in the promotion race has worsened after losing three of their last four matches; form that has seen them drop 14 points behind second-placed Cardiff City and six shy of a play-off place.

Monk is determined to turn things around and remains confident of delivering on his plans to make Middlesbrough a force this campaign after a stuttering start to his first season in charge.

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After losing to Bristol City on Saturday, when he publicly apologised to travelling supporters for the manner of the second-half display, Monk scrapped plans for his men to have two days off.

And the players were back at Rockliffe Park today to be put through their paces by Monk and his coaching staff.

It was very much business as usual and Monk will be working with his squad every day this week in a bid to deliver a performance worthy of claiming victory over Ipswich Town on Saturday.

Given Boro's ninth-placed position after 20 matches, Monk needs to start putting a winning run together again if Boro are to stand a chance of achieving their targets - and to ease the pressure on his own shoulders.

It is no secret that chairman Steve Gibson wants promotion and that was why he was willing to grant Monk the hefty spending power in the transfer market in the summer.

But it has taken longer than anticipated for the huge turnaround in personnel to produce the sort of performance that many expected at the start of the campaign.

Monk has always maintained it could take time, but with the turn of the year approaching it is fast approaching the point where victories are required to keep fading automatic promotion hopes alive.

Boro have only won four of their last 12 Championship matches and he is weighing up options after the poor run – particularly when regular changes to the team haven’t tended to help the cause.

Daniel Ayala is available again suspension, but Dael Fry didn’t do too much wrong at Ashton Gate, while Grant Leadbitter was completely omitted from the matchday squad despite playing a key role in a run of four wins from five before this poor run.

In fact Leadbitter has only endured defeat in two of the ten matches he has started this season, against Leeds United and Cardiff. Middlesbrough have fared worse without him, although there is competition from Jonny Howson, Adam Forshaw and Adam Clayton.

Boro spent more than £40m in the summer – although they did recoup a significant chunk of that through player sales – and they are unlikely to spend too much in January.

However, that could change if there were players departing and there has been a bizarre link to Turkey for Adama Traore over the last 48 hours.

Boro know nothing about interest in the Spanish winger from the Super-Lig, but there were conflicting reports from Istanbul suggesting Fenerbahce are ready to move for him in January.

While one newspaper suggested the 21-year-old is being chased, another Turkish title claimed it is in fact Swiss club Basel’s Adama Traore, 27, who is being targeted.