TERRY VENABLES last night admitted that Middlesbrough have discussed the possibility of bringing Fabrizio Ravanelli back to the Riverside Stadium.

The controversial Italian striker, who fell out with manager Bryan Robson and went AWOL before moving to Marseille in a £5.5m deal three seasons ago, has declared his interest in making a dramatic return to Teesside.

Ravanelli scored 31 goals in his one full season with Boro, but proved a disruptive influence in the dressing room as Robson's side suffered the heartbreak of relegation and defeats in both the FA Cup and Coca-Cola Cup finals.

Now, however, the 32-year-old "White Feather'' claims he would love to play under head coach Venables and alongside former Lazio teammate Alen Boksic as Boro once again battle to preserve their Premiership status.

Ravanelli, who played for Lazio against Leeds in the 3-3 Champions' League draw at Elland Road on Wednesday night, said: "I would love to play for Middlesbrough again.

"With Alen Boksic we would certainly make a fantastic partnership to defy any other attack in the Premiership.

"He's a great friend of mine and I speak to him very often. From what he has told me about Venables, I think he would appreciate me because he's a great professional.''

And former England coach Venables last night insisted: "Bryan and I have spoken about Ravanelli, but there's been no contact.

"He's an outstanding player, but whether the club would be prepared to consider him returning, I'm not sure.

"We're considering lots of options at the moment and we're still not out of the business of adding to the squad.

"It's a possibility that we'll bring someone in before the transfer deadline next week, because you don't know what's going to happen with injuries and the like between now and the end of the season.''

But Ravanelli's uneasy relationship with Robson, who paid a club record £7m to lure him from Juventus in the summer of 1996, means a reunion is almost certainly a non-starter.

During his turbulent 14 months with Boro, Ravanelli constantly sniped at Robson's coaching methods and the club's training facilities, and vowed never to speak to the manager again.

But this week he backtracked, saying: "It is possible when I said I'd never speak to Bryan again that I was seething.

"But years have passed and I have calmed down. As a trainer, Bryan may have his faults, but he's a great man.''

Boro's priorities, however, lie elsewhere and Charlton striker Mathias Svensson yesterday revealed he had been the subject of a failed £2.5m bid by the Teessiders.

The 26-year-old Swedish international said: "I believe a £2.5m offer has been turned down, but if the clubs reached an agreement, I would consider it.''

Meanwhile, Boro last night finally tied up the signing of Dean Windass from Bradford City after reaching a compromise over the complicated deal.

The Premier League refused to rubber-stamp the £1m transfer because part of the payment was dependent on whether Boro beat the drop - and they are due to visit Bradford on the penultimate weekend of the season.

While the rock-bottom Bantams are almost certainly doomed, Boro could be fighting for survival.

Windass, 31, has trained with Boro this week and Venables plans to involve him in tomorrow's derby clash with Newcastle at St. James' Park.

Venables said: "Dean has proved over the years he can get goals. He can play up front or in midfield and gives us another threat on goal, which is something we need.

"He's keen to win and he's a good personality to have around the place.

"I would consider throwing him straight in against Newcastle.'