MIDDLESBROUGH have gone back to the drawing board in their search for a striker after deciding against a January move for Arsenal's young Frenchman Jeremie Aliadiere.

And with Preston North End insisting England Under-21 international David Nugent will not be sold this month, Boro boss Gareth Southgate is having to look at alternative forwards to target.

Up until Arsenal's defeat at Sheffield United on December 30, Aliadiere had been earmarked as the suitable cheap option during the transfer window.

But, after having him watched at Bramall Lane, where he was booed by sections of the Gunners fans after an abject display, Southgate decided to pull out of negotiations with the north London club about the player's availability.

It is understood Aliadiere had even started to consider a new life away from the Emirates Stadium, and had looked at possible places to set up home in the North-East.

Now, though, the 22-year-old has been made aware that Middlesbrough have dropped their interest and he is vying to become fourth-choice striker with Sunderland target Anthony Stokes behind Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie and Emanuel Adebayor.

Aliadiere also played in Tuesday night's 4-0 win over Charlton, when he emerged as a substitute for Tomas Rosicky 13 minutes from time.

During his seven years at Arsenal he has only made 22 Premiership appearances, five from the start, and has spent unsuccessful spells on loan at Celtic, West Ham and Wolves.

And, after deciding against signing the youngster, Southgate is having to look elsewhere and been told to forget about Preston's £6m rated Nugent.

The 21-year-old, with nine goals this season and having scored in his last four games, is keen to test himself in the Premiership but will not be leaving Deepdale until the end of the season at the earliest.

Preston have slipped to third in the Championship after the New Year's Day defeat to Derby and manager Paul Simpson does not want to sell his top talent while they are in the midst of a promotion push.

Lilywhites chairman Derek Shaw said: "We have 19 cup finals left and David Nugent is not for sale. We want to get to the Premier League.

"David Nugent has been tremendous for us and I am sure he will play in the Premier League. But we want that to be with Preston North End and we do not want to sell him.

"He will be a big player for us in these 19 cup finals and we will assess the situation again after that."

Middlesbrough's need to add a new striker this month would be made more apparent if Massimo Maccarone's wish to return to Italy was granted.

Maccarone is due to come back to the North-East after spending Christmas back in his homeland nursing an injury.

But he is not expected to remain on Teesside for long, with Torino, Napoli and Siena all keeping an eye on the former Italian international.

And Maccarone, Middlesbrough's £8.15m record buy, said: "I want to change and maybe come back to Italy. I'm not perfect and, for sure, I haven't had my best performance - but I've never complained and I've always trained seriously. When I've played I gave my best, always.

"There are negotiations but up until now, nothing concrete. I don't ask the guarantee to be a regular but I want to play for a place at the same level as the others."

Fabio Rochemback is also angling for a return to former club Sporting Lisbon.

But Middlesbrough are reluctant to let him leave on loan and Sporting are not in a position to offer him a permanent deal on a par with what he is earning at the Riverside.

That is something which has frustrated the midfielder, quoted as saying: "I would adore to go back to Sporting.

"I have spoken to Gareth and told him this: 'I have lovely memories of Portugal, it would be very good to go back'.

"At this moment Middlesbrough do not want to loan me. They will only agree to sell me. I am not happy that they will not allow me to move on loan."

* Middlesbrough's ticket allocation for Saturday's FA Cup trip to Hull City is sold out.