MIDDLESBROUGH will receive a significant financial boost if Connor Ripley carves out a successful goalkeeping career in the wake of his move to Preston.

Ripley cut short a loan spell at Accrington Stanley to make a permanent switch to Preston earlier this week, ending an association with Boro that spanned almost a decade.

The 25-year-old, who is the son of former Boro winger Stuart, joined the Teessiders in 2009, and while he only made two senior appearances for the club, he was always regarded as an extremely bright prospect.

Pulis thought long and hard about letting him leave, but with Dimi Konstantopoulos still providing reliable support to Boro’s established number one, Darren Randolph, it was felt that keeping Ripley would only serve to stunt his progress.

An England international at Under-19 and Under-20 level, Ripley has signed a three-and-a-half year deal with Preston, and if he was to impress at Deepdale and earn another step up in the future, Boro would be ideally positioned to benefit.

“He’s got the potential to be a top keeper,” said Boro boss Tony Pulis. “What we’ve done is we’ve given him the chance.

“He’s 25, he’s not 19, he’s 25. He now needs to go and put roots down and prove he’s going to be a top keeper.

“We’re well covered. We’ve got a massive sell-on, and the first option to buy him back. It’s a great deal for the kid, not just the football club.

“That’s what people have to understand, if you’re a decent football club you look after your people as well and that’s what we’ve done.”

Ripley follows Martin Braithwaite through the exit door, with the Denmark international having joined Spanish side Leganes on loan, and the duo are unlikely to be the only players leaving Teesside this month.

Ashley Fletcher is attracting interest from a number of Championship clubs, and while Hull boss Nigel Adkins admitted earlier this week that his club were struggling to put together a financial package to enable them to sign the striker, the situation is likely to be reassessed later in the month.

Similarly, while Ipswich have admitted defeat in their attempts to sign Grant Leadbitter and Rudy Gestede, there is still a chance that both players could move on before the transfer window closes.

“It’s not a case of only allowing players to leave if there are incomings,” said Pulis. “If things happen and it’s right for the football club, and if Steve (Gibson) thinks it’s right, we’ll do it.”

Pulis has overseen a major overhaul of Middlesbrough’s recruitment operation since taking over last December, with former FA chief Adrian Bevington having been appointed as the club’s head of recruitment.

Bevington will be an influential figure in this month’s transfer business, but Pulis admits the off-field restructuring process remains a work in progress.

“I still think we’ve got a long way to go, still think there’s lots of work to do,” he said. “I think there’s lots of stuff that still has to happen.

“You spend all your time trying to win games, and then having done that, you’re spending time trying to improve this and that. It’s a merry-go-round, and you have to get people to buy in to what you’re trying to do.”

Most importantly, Pulis has to persuade Steve Gibson that he is on the right track, with Boro’s owner having command of the purse strings.

“I spoke to Steve early (yesterday) and we’ve got a good relationship,” said the Boro boss. “I think he took obviously a massive hit last year personally, and that has knocked him a bit.

“The club just needs a bit of time. We’ve done fabulous, the players have done fabulous, but we need a bit of time to build it.”