MIDDLESBROUGH launched an unsuccessful deadline day move for Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, leaving manager Tony Pulis disappointed not to have replaced two of his departed forwards.

Pulis made no secret of his desire to bring in a different option before Wednesday’s deadline after agreeing to let both Martin Braithwaite and Ashley Fletcher head to Bordeaux and Sunderland respectively.

Even though he is satisfied that Britt Assombalonga, Patrick Bamford and Rudy Gestede – a combined list of options brought in for more than £25m – can deliver the goals between now and the end of the season, he wanted to have a different kind of striker.

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Pulis is known to have explored a couple of options on deadline day to fill that hole and, having suffered frustration on that front earlier in the day, The Northern Echo understands Middlesbrough tried to strike a deal for Mitrovic.

The Newcastle forward was given the go-ahead to leave by Rafael Benitez and saw a proposed return to former club Anderlecht break down when he was on a flight to Belgium.

He then jumped on another plane to London, where he joined Fulham until the end of the season on loan, meaning their Championship promotion rivals Middlesbrough were left frustrated in their pursuit of the Serbian international.

Pulis, without naming his targets, said: “The one thing we missed out on was that we were desperate to bring a forward in. We lost it right at the end.

“Having said that we still have Bamford, Britt and Gestede, you have players of that ability who you would hope would get you enough goals in 17 games to win you games.

“The front players here need to step up to the mark and nobody knows that more than them. You need to get into the cycle of scoring quickly, the whole team. They have been good in training and hopefully we can have a good session and do well at Norwich.”

The need for Mitrovic, or a different striker, increased after Pulis had granted permission for Fletcher and Braithwaite to head out. Defender Cyrus Christie, only signed for £2.5m last summer from Derby, also moved to Fulham for £3m after losing his place to Ryan Shotton.

Pulis hopes that Sunderland loan man Fletcher, a £6.5m buy from West Ham, will still be a huge part of his plans, although he suggested Bordeaux new-boy Braithwaite and Christie instigated an exit.

“They either want to play for Middlesbrough or they don’t, there’s no middle line,” said Pulis. “If they want to move and it’s a good deal for the football club then we have to set in stone what we want and put in place a system.

“It’s a fantastic club here and you want people to grow with the club and be here for the right reasons and not the wrong reasons. If people want to leave after a few months then fine. I just want people who want to be at the club.

“I find it astonishing that they can be at a club for a couple of months and want to leave, but that’s the way the world goes. I think this is a very good football club, the standards have to go up and we have to take it up a notch. We need people who want to play for this football club.

“Fletch needed games, he is a young lad and needs to come back stronger and be competitive in men’s football. For the size he is, the attributes he has, he needs to get going. Hopefully that move will be good for him and this club. The others had the option to stay or go and they wanted to go.”

When Middlesbrough moved those players on and brought in Mo Besic, Jack Harrison and Martin Cranie there was a sense the new manager wanted a clear-out, but Pulis disagreed.

The Middlesbrough boss said: “They have had the opportunities, the opportunities were there for them and they have come to us to leave. We have not gone to them. That’s fine. I have no problems with Martin or Cyrus, they are good lads. That’s what’s happened.

“They didn’t make my decisions easy because you want to keep your best players. You want to keep players who you think the team can benefit from. It’s not about just reducing the size of the squad, it’s about reducing it with certain players who you wouldn’t have put in the team. I wouldn’t have said that about those three. That’s the way it is.”

Now Pulis has outlined how over the next few months he is looking for Middlesbrough’s recruitment to improve, starting with ensuring the club’s targets have the right mentality as well as ability.

He said: “I have a policy, I don’t like people being around a football club who don’t want to be there. If they think the grass is greener somewhere else then that’s fine. The big thing at this club is recruitment.

“What we have to do is make sure this football club is right on the ball if people leave, then we need to know where the next one is and the one after and after. We don’t just wait for it to happen and react, you have to be active yourself.

“We have to make sure we are very proactive in recruitment, knowing where and what we can afford and how to get it. That will develop over the next few months.

“It’s always character, character, what you look for. It has always been that. If you want a group of players who can relate to the terraces, the support, then you want technical ability but also players who have a go. Supporters want to see people who are proud to wear the shirt. If it takes months then hopefully we will get there.”