MIDDLESBROUGH intend to have their new manager in place by the end of this week, with Jonathan Woodgate still by far the likeliest successor to Tony Pulis.

Woodgate, who is now back on Teesside after a family holiday, was formally interviewed at the start of this month, and is understood to have impressed Steve Gibson with his long-term vision for the club and plans to support the work of the academy.

Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic has also had a formal interview with Boro officials, but Woodgate has established himself as the preferred option after working as a first-team coach under Pulis last season.

Nigel Adkins emerged as a surprise contender over the weekend, with his sudden departure from Hull City thrusting him into the job market. Adkins performed impressively last season, leading Hull to a 13th-place finish in the Championship despite the ongoing off-field issues at the KCOM Stadium, but had not been considered for the Boro vacancy prior to this weekend’s developments.

Jorge Simao was one of a number of names discussed on a long-list of potential candidates, but the Portuguese boss, who has previously led Braga and Boavista, was ruled out of the equation on Saturday when he agreed to take over as head coach of Saudi Arabian side Al-Fayha.

Simao, who boasts close links to former Middlesbrough advisor Peter Kenyon thanks to his relationship with agent Jorge Mendes, was confirmed as Al-Fayha’s new boss on Saturday.

It is now more than three weeks since Pulis’ departure was confirmed, but Gibson has been determined to conduct an exhaustive search for the Welshman’s successor.

Woodgate was always regarded as the sole viable internal candidate, boasting strong coaching credentials as well as a powerful emotional link to his hometown club.

Gibson has a track record of appointing ambitious coaches to their first managerial position – Steve McClaren, Gareth Southgate and Aitor Karanka were all installed as Boro boss despite having no previous managerial experience – although if Woodgate is handed the job this week, it will be interesting to see whether he is encouraged to appoint an experienced coaching team around him.

Pulis’ departure heralded a major cull of Boro’s backroom operation, meaning Woodgate will effectively start with a clean slate if his appointment is confirmed later this week.

Whoever gets the nod, one of their first jobs will be to rubber-stamp Boro’s pre-season schedule, with the club yet to announce a single summer fixture. Pulis put plans in place prior to his exit, but a new boss will be able to make alterations to the proposed schedule if they want to.

There will also be a need to make some early recruitment decisions, both in terms of potential incomings and outgoings. Stewart Downing has not been offered a new deal at the Riverside, but if Woodgate is appointed, he could opt to retain the veteran midfielder, potentially in a player-coach capacity.

Two of Middlesbrough’s players played against each other on the international stage at the weekend, with Darren Randolph’s Republic of Ireland side claiming a 1-1 draw with Martin Braithwaite’s Denmark team.