AN OLD name has emerged as a fresh transfer target for Middlesbrough next month as Aitor Karanka considers ways of bolstering his squad for the promotion run-in.

With the uncertainty surrounding the future of Patrick Bamford following the end of his Crystal Palace loan, Karanka is also weighing up other options to strengthen his attacking ranks.

Fulham’s Ross McCormack is a player still in Middlesbrough’s thinking, more than two years after he was first targeted by the Teesside club.

McCormack has scored 15 goals for the Cottagers this season despite a frustrating start for the west London club, which has seen manager Kit Symons replaced by Slavisa Jokanovic.

The new Fulham boss has inherited a team under a transfer embargo and has been told he needs to consider sales to allow him to make his own moves in the market.

Bournemouth, who are also showing an interest in Bamford, are among those considering a swoop for McCormack in the new year but Middlesbrough are keeping an eye on things themselves.

Karanka has a number of potential attacking targets, with Bamford, McCormack and Blackburn’s Jordan Rhodes known to be three of those on his radar.

McCormack, 29, has averaged a goal almost every two games since his £11m switch from Leeds United in 2014. He had previously frustrated Boro by committing to a new deal at Elland Road when Tony Mowbray had felt he was close to landing him.

Mowbray had tabled three offers for McCormack during his time in charge at the Riverside but it never materialised and he signed a new deal at Leeds. The following summer he joined Fulham in a deal which made him the most expensive player in Football League history.

The former Cardiff striker, who is just as effective as a No 10, signed a four-year deal when he moved from Leeds and Fulham when the player felt he would achieve the aim of promotion to the Premier League. The Scotland international scored a hat-trick against Middlesbrough in May's 4-3 defeat which ended hopes of automatic promotion for the men from the North-East.

Middlesbrough boss Karanka, who would like to make a couple of additions next month, is not too worried about what happens as he has the confidence in the squad he has at his disposal.

Derby’s failure to win at Leeds on Tuesday means Middlesbrough will head in to the battle of the top two at the Riverside on Saturday as the Championship’s leaders.

Middlesbrough have a game in hand and are a point clear of the Rams and the rest of their rivals, while there is a five-point gap to the play-off places. Crucially there is also a 13 point difference between first and Sheffield Wednesday in seventh.

Ipswich are sixth, nine points behind Middlesbrough, and manager Mick McCarthy said after his side’s victory at Brighton:

McCarthy said: “It’s not realistic for us to catch Middlesbrough and Derby and I don’t think automatic promotion is realistic. But we will be trying like hell to catch them.”