HE might have missed out on Shay Given after a dramatic day of transfer negotiations, but Aitor Karanka remains determined to add some experience to Middlesbrough’s ranks this summer.

Given indicated a willingness to rejoin Boro late on Tuesday evening after the Teessiders offered a two-year deal following the cancellation of the veteran goalkeeper’s previous contract at Aston Villa.

However, before the move could be finalised, Stoke City stepped in with a counter-offer of their own and Given is set to snub Boro’s offer in order to earn more money at the Britannia Stadium.

Whether the 39-year-old is able to secure regular football with the Potters remains to be seen, as Mark Hughes is set to start the season with Jack Butland as his number one if, as expected, Asmir Begovic moves to Chelsea.

Nevertheless, Given’s decision to turn his back on the Teessiders is a blow that even Karanka did not anticipate when he conducted his first pre-season press conference yesterday afternoon.

At that stage, the Boro head coach confirmed he “hoped something could happen” as he regarded Given’s extensive experience as a potentially valuable addition to the squad.

Karanka is determined to raise the average age of his side next term as he feels a lack of experience was a major factor in Boro’s failure to secure an automatic promotion spot in the closing stages of last season.

Thirty-year-old Stewart Downing is the club’s main midfield target following the tabling of a £5m offer with West Ham United, while Daryl Murphy, 32, and Rickie Lambert, 33, currently top the list of potential attacking acquisitions.

“I am trying to add to the experience of the group, because a lack of experience was one of the problems last season,” confirmed Karanka, who made 29-year-old Alex Baptiste his first signing of the summer earlier this week.

“In some of the important moments, perhaps we missed a bit of experience. For that reason, I want to bring in players who can address that, like Baptiste, who knows the league really well. The players we are working to bring here more or less fall into the same category.

“It is not a big list (of targets). All the players who are on the list want to join us. We are working on that. This season has to be better than the last one, and all the players who I have been speaking to want to be a part of it. It is not a big list because we know what kind of player we need and we want.

“I want to sign players who can improve the squad in the areas where we had problems last season – especially up front, where we had a lot of chances, but didn’t score goals.”

Boro face competition from Sunderland and Leicester City for Downing, with West Ham hoping to receive more than £6m despite the former England international having entered the final year of his current deal.

Hammers boss Slaven Bilic will not allow Downing to leave without a replacement having been secured, with Everton’s Kevin Mirallas understood to top his wanted list.

As was the case with Given, there is still a chance of another Premier League side making a last-minute approach, but Downing’s desire to return to his native Teesside could yet play a crucial role in proceedings.

“I can’t say anything new about Stewart as a player because everybody knows him,” said Karanka. “For me, it is difficult to think about him now because I know it will be difficult for me to get this kind of player.

“He is a Premier League player and he has offers from other places. But I am here to assemble as good a squad as I possibly can.”

Patrick Bamford was Boro’s leading goalscorer last season, but Karanka has accepted that the Chelsea forward will not be returning to the Riverside next term.

Other Chelsea players remain on the agenda though, with defensive duo Nathan Ake and Tomas Kalas both being considered for a season-long loan.

“I don’t think Patrick is coming because he showed everybody last season that he can play in the Premier League,” said Karanka. “I am sure he has offers to play in the Premier League, and also to play in other countries.”

Unlike last season, when Boro lost three of their opening five Championship matches as they scrambled to assemble their squad at the last minute, Karanka is determined to ensure the bulk of his summer business is completed ahead of next month’s opening game at Preston.

“We are trying to bring players in as soon as possible this time around,” he said. “It is important to start the season in a good way, especially because we have six or seven games in August.

“Even if we are looking to do loan signings, we would like to have them done before the season begins. I need to start working with the players as soon as possible. Obviously, if one or two players were to arrive at the last minute because they were able to improve the squad, that would not be a problem. But not all of them.”

Boro’s first pre-season outing comes at York’s Bootham Crescent on Saturday, but neither Damia Abella nor Rhys Williams will be involved as they face at least another two months on the sidelines.

* Boro will round off their pre-season programme with a home game against Spanish side Getafe on Saturday, August 1 (3pm).

The Championship home game with Leeds United has been put back to Sunday, September 27 (1.15pm) and will be televised on Sky Sports.