Mowbray will only make signings if players leave

The Northern Echo: Mowbray will only make signings if players leave Mowbray will only make signings if players leave

MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Mowbray will only make a January signing if a member of the current squad leaves next month.

The transfer window reopens at the turn of the year and with a lucrative new Premier League television deal beginning at the start of next season, there will be pressure on the sides at the top of the Championship to do everything possible to increase their chances of promotion.

Boro are only one point off the automatic promotion places ahead of Saturday's trip to Leeds and have been linked with a possible loan deal for former winger Stewart Downing.

However, with Rhys Williams, Mustapha Carayol, Julio Arca and Curtis Main all poised to return from injury, Mowbray does not expect to be welcoming any new arrivals unless a key member of his squad leaves next month.

Such a scenario is unlikely, although Swansea continue to monitor Marvin Emnes and Nicky Bailey, having inquired about the duo in the past.

"We're not really in the market place to add more players in January," said Mowbray. "We're going to have some real selection headaches about who's getting left out and who's sitting in the stands as opposed to on the bench.

"So I'm not here looking at trying to get a load more players in January. We're trying to manage the squad, although if there are any outs there might be an in.

"If not, then the likes of Luke Williams and Adam Reach, who have been on the periphery for the last month or two, will probably get an opportunity.

"They're talented young boys so I'm not sitting here thinking, 'Let's go and buy some players'. The squad have coped well this year."

That strength has been tested in the first half of the season, but with the injury list gradually beginning to shrink, Mowbray finds himself with plenty of competition for places, particularly in the attacking third.

At the other end of the field, Rhys Williams will return to the squad at Elland Road after a 22-game absence.

The Australian has been absent since damaging his ankle ligaments in the Capital One Cup tie at Gillingham in August, but returned to full training last week and would have played in a behind-closed-doors practice game on Friday had the cold snap not made the Rockliffe Park pitches unplayable.

He will feature in a practice match involving Boro's youth squad later today, and is likely to be on the substitutes' bench at Leeds.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see whether Mowbray chooses to use his skipper as a defender, where there is limited cover for Jonathan Woodgate, Seb Hines and Andre Bikey, or a midfielder, where Williams has arguably produced his best displays in a Boro shirt.

"He was supposed to play on Friday afternoon but the pitch was frozen solid and he didn't get the opportunity to play 45 minutes for the development squad," said Mowbray."We arranged the game for Rhys to get going. With that game not going ahead, we felt it would have been unfair on him and the team to throw him in against Wolves with so little training time under his belt."

While Williams has spent the last three months battling against injury, Marvin Emnes has been laid low in recent weeks by an illness.

The Dutchman's form has dipped since the opening two months of the season, and he has started just three of Boro's last nine league games.

Mowbray attributes his downturn in fortunes to an illness that lingered for a number of weeks, but which is now showing signs of improvement.

"He has been under the weather, he has been ill," said the Boro boss. "He has not been 100 per cent in himself and that has reflected in his training.

"When he comes out of that - and there are signs he is - he will be fine. He has the ability, the talent to be a big, big player for us and we have to get him out of that. He has to step up to the mark and perform. I'm confident he will come strong."

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