AITOR KARANKA will make re-signing Patrick Bamford his number one priority for next month’s transfer window, with the striker set to trigger a release clause in his loan deal with Crystal Palace.

Bamford was an unused substitute once again as Palace drew 1-1 with Everton on Monday night, and since moving to Selhurst Park in the summer, the 22-year-old has played just 74 minutes of Premier League football for the South London club.

He insisted on the insertion of a break deal into the loan agreement he signed before the start of the season, and while he has previously spoken of his reluctance to cut short his stay with Palace, his lack of recent activity is understood to have sparked a rethink.

Sources close to Bamford claim the England Under-21 international is growing increasingly resigned to his fate under Alan Pardew, and is concerned at the prospect of spending the second half of the season sitting on the substitutes’ bench.

He will discuss his future with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho before the transfer window reopens, but despite his parent club’s struggles in the bottom half of the table, he is unlikely to find himself any closer to the first team at Stamford Bridge.

As a result, he will consider offers for an alternative loan move in the second half of the season, and while he would prefer to remain in the top-flight, Middlesbrough would be hopeful of persuading him to return to the Riverside.

Bamford spent a hugely successful year in the North-East last season, scoring 17 Championship goals to help Boro reach the play-off final.

He enjoyed his time on Teesside, and was extremely popular with Boro’s playing and coaching staff, as well as the club’s fans.

The option of regular first-team football as part of another promotion push would potentially be appealing, and while Boro’s 29 Championship goals make them the second leading scorers in the division, Karanka would jump at the chance of adding Bamford for the second half of the campaign.

David Nugent has been a success since making a £4m move from Leicester City in the summer, but Kike has struggled to make an impact in his more recent appearances and Cristhian Stuani is increasingly regarded as a valuable attacking-midfield asset rather than an out-and-out centre-forward.

Bamford’s pace and mobility make him a different proposition to all of the strikers currently on Boro’s books, and his return would represent a major boost to a Boro side who are three places better off than at the same stage of last season.

Adam Reach is another player who could return at the turn of the year, with his current loan spell at Preston due to expire in January.

Reach, who signed a three-month agreement when he moved to Deepdale in September, has made 11 appearances for Boro’s Championship rivals, with Preston boss Simon Grayson admitting he has already raised the prospect of retaining him in Lancashire.

“We’ve had a little bit of dialogue with Middlesbrough to see what they are thinking of doing with Adam,” said Grayson. “I think it’s probably a little too early for clubs who are loaning their players out to commit to what they are going to do.

“There is always a lot of dialogue between clubs about certain players, whether it’s loan deals or permanent deals. A lot of that information will not be made public until January.”

Karanka agreed to Reach’s departure despite the left midfielder starting three of Boro’s opening six Championship games, but with Carlos de Pena having failed to make much of an impact following his deadline-day arrival from Uruguay, the Boro boss could be more reluctant to extend Reach’s stay away from Teesside.

Boro’s youth team are in FA Youth Cup third round action this evening when they take on Worthing.