TONY PULIS will sit down with Steve Gibson next week to discuss who he would like to move on in this month’s transfer window, and the Middlesbrough manager will use Saturday’s FA Cup third-round tie with Sunderland to give some of his fringe players a chance to stake their claim for an extended stay at the Riverside.

Since taking over on Teesside a little over a fortnight ago, Pulis has made no attempt to hide his opinion that he has inherited a squad that is far too big for the Championship.

Ideally, the new Boro boss would like to reduce his playing resources by up to four or five players, but given that he has only had two games in charge since succeeding Garry Monk, he remains reluctant to make any hasty decisions without having seeing some of his squad in action.

Consequently, he will use Saturday’s Tees-Wear derby to run the rule over some of the players who did not feature in the games against Aston Villa and Preston. Adam Clayton and Adam Forshaw are set to return to the starting line-up, while Pulis could also opt to start with the likes of Dael Fry, Marvin Johnson, Marcus Tavernier and Ashley Fletcher in order to be able to properly assess their qualities.

Clayton has attracted the interest of a host of Boro’s Championship rivals, including Saturday’s opponents, Sunderland, and one of his former clubs, Leeds United. Forshaw is also on Sunderland’s radar, along with that of promotion-seeking duo Derby County and Aston Villa.

It remains to be seen whether Pulis will recommend selling either, but the Boro boss is keen to meet Gibson next week to outline his plans for the remainder of the transfer window.

Gibson will be understandably reluctant to lose money on any of the players he has signed in the last few years, but the fact he instructed Pulis to assess ‘all aspects’ of the club when appointing him suggests he is aware that changes to the current squad might be required.

“Steve has spent a lot of money this summer on a lot of players, so for me to come in and say, ‘I need this’ or ‘I need that’ would be very, very rash,” said Pulis. “I need to have a look at them first.

“I need to have a look at the group, and the group is far, far too big. There’s too many players outside the XI, and I don’t like that as a manager. I’ve never liked that. I think team spirit and togetherness is so important.

“We’ve got Sunderland on Saturday, which is obviously a big game, but I’ll play a few of the other lads so I can have a look at them and assess them. Then I’ll have a sit down with Steve because that will have been three or four games that I’ve watched. I’ll sit down with him, and I’ll see what we can do.”

Pulis is set to lose Fabio da Silva before the end of the month, with the full-back expected to return to his Brazilian homeland for family reasons. His departure would leave George Friend as Boro’s only natural left-back, and may mean Pulis has to enter the market to secure some cover for the left-hand side of his back four.

He could also find himself fielding interest in more of his players if, as looks increasingly likely, Aitor Karanka takes over at Nottingham Forest.

Karanka is the bookmakers’ favourite to fill the managerial vacancy at the City Ground, and if the former Boro boss is appointed in the next few days, it would be no surprise to see him turn his attention back to Teesside as he looks to make signings.

Karanka would almost certainly be interested in both Clayton and Forshaw, and might also look to prise Patrick Bamford from the Riverside given that the striker has not started either of the last two matches under Pulis. Karanka described Bamford as ‘the best player in the Championship’ when he topped Boro’s goalscoring charts during the 2014-15 season.