JONATHAN WOODGATE remains firmly in the frame for a prominent role in Middlesbrough’s new managerial set-up after a backroom cull - even if he doesn’t end up with the job himself.

The 39-year-old former defender has survived a clear-out of the first team’s coaching staff following Tony Pulis’ departure, which has even seen another Boro player depart.

Woodgate was the notable absentee when Middlesbrough issued a statement today to outline how the club’s reshuffle at the training ground is well under-way.

The former Real Madrid, Tottenham, Newcastle and Leeds defender has been the favourite for the manager’s job since Tony Pulis’ exit on Friday.

But even if chairman Steve Gibson decides to go down another route then Woodgate is sure to be part of the plans going forward having been retained when the announcement arrived.

Five members of Pulis’ backroom staff have been told they can be on their way including Curtis Fleming, who spent ten years playing for the club. The Irishman only moved back to the North-East in February last year after a spell with Queens Park Rangers.

Less surprising exits are those that have seen Pulis’ assistant manager Sam Ellis and goalkeeper coach Jonathan Gould depart. Two more to go are performance coach Tim Exeter and analyst Carl Blakemore.

Fleming had hoped the move back to the Riverside would have lasted a lot longer having had a long association, but it is only Woodgate who has remained.

Middlesbrough are looking for Woodgate, well liked and respected within the dressing room, to continue his development as a coach after building strong links between the Under-18s and Under-23s with the first team.

But Gibson is taking his time to assess the options available after last week’s decision to part with Pulis, having build up a strong friendship and relationship with the former Stoke boss.

There is no shortage of interest in the role either, despite the failure to secure a return to the Premier League and an end to the parachute payments because there remains an attraction to work under Gibson.

One of the club’s former captains Nigel Pearson, who pushed to get the job when Garry Monk was handed the reins in the summer of 2017, is keen on making a return to Middlesbrough.

He is out of work after a spell in Belgium with OH Leuven and is looking for a new challenge, preferably back in England where he says he has recharged his batteries.

The former Leicester man said: “Middlesbrough is a football club that anyone in my position would have to contemplate. It’s a fantastic club. It’s a fantastic job. And Steve Gibson is a fantastic chairman. Whoever gets the job will be taking over a superb club with all the structures in place to be successful.”

Pearson left Leicester after keeping the Foxes up in the Premier League following a great escape and that squad, by and large, he led to the Championship title in 2014. He has also had spells in charge of Carlisle, Southampton, Hull and Derby.

Gibson will consider all the options available but Woodgate has remained the favourite, although Middlesbrough are highly unlikely to act on claims that former Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta is keen on the job.

Chris Hughton, another strongly linked, is believed to be only interested in jobs in the Premier League after leaving Brighton.

There is known to be strong support for Ajax’s second-string coach Michael Reiziger because of his philosophy on how he wants the game to be played and his connections in Europe.