MIDDLESBROUGH have opened negotiations with Norwich City in an attempt to sign midfielder Jonny Howson.

Boro boss Garry Monk has identified Howson as his leading midfield target, with the 29-year-old expected to leave Carrow Road this summer.

Howson has rejected Norwich’s offer of a new contract, effectively forcing Canaries officials to listen to offers for his services rather than run the risk of losing him for nothing in the future.

The midfielder has made 188 appearances since joining Norwich from Leeds in January 2012, scoring 24 goals, but is looking for a new challenge.

Monk is keen to add him to his Boro squad, having instructed those above him to listen to offers for midfield duo Gaston Ramirez and Stewart Downing this summer. Another midfielder, Viktor Fischer, has left to join Mainz, while Julien de Sart has also moved on to join Zulte Waregem on loan.

Leeds United are keen to re-sign Howson, having employed the midfielder for six seasons prior to his departure to Norwich.

The Northern Echo:

However, Boro officials will attempt to persuade Howson they are better placed to push for promotion than Leeds, and will look to do business with Norwich for around £4m.

“When you’re a manager you have to come in and assess the squad very quickly,” said Monk. “I’ve had many discussions with the ownership and the right guys that are in place. There are many factors to consider, but it’s about shaping the squad to what you need.

“Football moves very quickly, but that’s what I enjoy. We’re already starting to put that in place, and we’ll get stronger as the summer goes on.”

Monk is keen to overhaul every area of his squad, but the new Boro boss does not want to lose Marten de Roon and the Dutchman’s former club, Atalanta, have conceded they are unlikely to be able to pull off a deal for their former player this summer.

Atalanta officials have made a number of inquiries about de Roon’s potential availability, but their interest has been rebuffed at every turn, with Monk and Boro chairman Steve Gibson both determined to retain the midfielder.

“De Roon? Difficult, very difficult,” said Atalanta president Antonio Percassi, when asked about his prospects of re-signing the Boro player.

The Northern Echo:

Boro reduced their squad size by one yesterday when young midfielder Robbie Tinkler joined National League side Gateshead on a six-month loan.

Tinkler, who is 20, was a regular in Boro’s Under-23 squad last season, captaining the Teessiders’ development side during their involvement in the Checkatrade Trophy.

He spent the second half of last term on loan at National League side North Ferriby United, and has joined Gateshead to gain further senior experience.

Meanwhile, Boro will complete their pre-season programme with a home game against German Bundesliga side Augsburg.

The Teessiders will host Augsburg, who finished 13th in the German top-flight last season, at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday, July 29 (3pm).

  • Boro’s opening home game of the new Championship season has been selected for live television coverage. Sheffield United’s visit to the Riverside on Saturday, August 12 will now kick-off at 5.30pm.