MIDDLESBROUGH will make renewed contact with Blackburn Rovers this week in an attempt to push through a deal for Jordan Rhodes, but have played down talk of a move for Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert.

With Patrick Bamford’s future still uncertain as the Chelsea forward ponders whether to rejoin Boro or move to one of the Premier League sides to have expressed an interest in his services, the Teessiders are assessing alternative attacking options as Aitor Karanka looks to assemble the bulk of his squad before the opening game of the season on August 9.

Lambert has been discussed as a potential target for a number of weeks now, and reports surfaced at the weekend suggesting the England international was poised to sign a three-year deal on Teesside, with Liverpool close to completing a deal for Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke.

However, with Lambert currently in Australia taking part in Liverpool’s pre-season tour, Riverside sources have distanced themselves from talk of a move for the forward.

Instead, Bamford and Rhodes remain the club’s leading two targets, with the latter expected to be the subject of further discussions with Blackburn officials in the next 48 hours.

Boro tried to sign Rhodes, whose uncle is Boro assistant boss Steve Agnew, in the second half of last season on a loan deal that would have included a clause for a possible permanent transfer this summer.

Their approaches were rebuffed at that stage, but Boro’s recruitment team are increasingly confident that Blackburn will agree to Rhodes’ departure this summer.

However, the Scotland international will command a fee of around £8m and the Teessiders face competition from a number of different quarters as they attempt to pull off a deal that will take their cumulative summer outlay beyond the £13m mark in the wake of last week’s successful acquisition of Stewart Downing.

Sheffield Wednesday, who are in the process of making a significant summer investment that could transform them into promotion contenders next season, are prepared to match Blackburn’s valuation of Rhodes, while Hull City have also been linked with the striker as they prepare to spend some of the parachute payment that accompanied their relegation last season.

Having already re-signed Tomas Kalas from Chelsea, Boro had also been hoping to add versatile defender Nathan Ake to their ranks this summer.

However, with Ake also interesting Newcastle, Leicester and Watford, the Teessiders have accepted they will struggle to land the 20-year-old, who spent a month of last season on loan at Reading.

Boro played the second behind-closed-doors game of their training camp in Marbella on Saturday afternoon, with Grant Leadbitter’s late equaliser securing a 1-1 draw with League Two Scunthorpe United.

The game was notable for the second-half appearance of Downing, with the England international kicking off his second spell at his hometown club in an attacking central-midfield role.

Boro conceded within six minutes of kick-off as youngster Jonathan Burn headed Gary McSheffrey’s cross beyond his own goalkeeper, Connor Ripley.

With the temperature approaching 96 degrees fahrenheit, the tempo of the game was understandably slow, although Lee Tomlin passed up a glorious opportunity to equalise when his first-half penalty was saved by Joe Anyon.

Downing came on at the interval, and immediately went close with a curling free-kick, and Boro levelled with six minutes left as Leadbitter scored with a bouncing long-range strike.

Middlesbrough First Half: Ripley; Kalas, Jackson, Burn, Friend; Clayton, Forshaw; Tomlin, Reach, Wildschut; Kike.

Middlesbrough Second Half: Konstantopoulos; Nsue, Ayala, Fry, Husband; Maloney, Leadbitter; Adomah, Downing, Carayol; Fewster.