SCOTT McDonald has urged his Middlesbrough team-mates to “take a long, hard look at themselves” in order to ensure they return to pre-season training determined to atone for the disappointments of the current campaign.

Boro concluded their home programme with a 2-2 draw with Charlton, and could theoretically finish the season as low as 18th if they lose their final game at Sheffield Wednesday this weekend.

The last four months have been a disaster, with Boro winning just three of their 19 Championship matches since the turn of the year, and McDonald accepts the players have to shoulder responsibility for the slide.

The Australian is already setting his sights on next season, and admits there will have to be a collective determination to achieve higher standards if the Teessiders are to mount a more successful promotion push next term.

“We all have to take a long, hard look at ourselves and ask what we can do better than what we've done in the second half of the season,” said McDonald. “Everyone's more than ready for that and looking forward to it already. We want to put this behind us now and click our fingers and be ready for the start of next season.

“We can only really assess how the future looks at the start of next season. Let's see how we recover from the second half of this season, which has been really disappointing.

“But everyone has to come back ready and fully fit, if not even fitter than they've been this year. We have to be better in every aspect.”

McDonald will end this season as Boro's leading scorer, with Saturday's 87th-minute equaliser making it 12 Championship goals, four more than his closest rival, Lukas Jutkiewicz.

The former Celtic striker missed the first nine games of the campaign as Tony Mowbray froze him out of the first-team picture entirely, but his record since has underlined his enduring importance as the Teessiders' most reliable goalscorer.

Despite settling his differences with Mowbray, it would be understandable if McDonald felt vindicated by his goal tally. However, the 29-year-old will not be extracting any pleasure from the way in which the season has gone.

“It's been a difficult and frustrating season, and at times it's certainly not worked out the way I wanted it to,” he said. “I'm sure everyone can understand that.

“I'm not satisfied with my tally this year, although maybe that's just me as a person. I don't think I'm ever happy unless we're achieving things collectively.

“Individually, it's okay to finish the season as the top scorer, but I'd rather settle for doing things successively as a team than taking any pride in anything individual.

“I want to work hard and do the best I can and, as a squad, each and every one of us has to ask questions of what we've been doing this season. Could we have done things differently? That's the question we have to answer.”