MIDDLESBROUGH will use their pre-season programme to assess whether any of their four young goalkeepers are ready for first-team duty after confirming the end of Dimi Konstantopoulos’ six-year association with the club.

Boro announced that Konstantopoulos had not been offered a new contract earlier this month, but Jonathan Woodgate scheduled a meeting with the 40-year-old to discuss future plans.

That meeting has now taken place, with Konstantopoulos having returned from a summer holiday, and the pair have taken the mutual decision to head their separate ways.

While Danny Coyne’s appointment as part of the backroom team ensures Boro are well stocked in the goalkeeping coaching department, Konstantopoulos’ departure means established number one Darren Randolph is the only shot-stopper currently on the books boasting first-team experience.

However, the club boast four exciting youth prospects, and Coyne and Woodgate will use the pre-season programme to determine whether any are ready to step into the senior squad next season.

Aynsley Pears is the most seasoned of the young goalkeeping options, having spent last season on loan at National League side Gateshead.

The 21-year-old, who has also spent time at Darlington, is regarded as an extremely promising prospect, and while he is completely lacking in senior experience in the Football League, he will be part of the first-team group that take part in their first pre-season training session on grass later today.

He is not the only shot-stopper looking to climb up the ranks this summer, with Bradley James, Zach Hemming and Sol Brynn also set to be given an opportunity to impress in a senior setting.

All four youngsters will train with the first team during the pre-season schedule, and at least two or three are likely to be involved in Boro’s friendly games.

Coyne and Woodgate will then decide whether any are capable of deputising for Randolph next season, or whether there is a need to enter the transfer market to secure a more experienced alternative.

Woodgate spelled out his determination to give young players a chance when he conducted his first press conference since replacing Tony Pulis earlier this month, and naming an unproven goalkeeper in his matchday squad would be an important early step in living up to his word.

The majority of Boro’s players returned to Rockliffe Park for the start of pre-season training on Monday, with Woodgate having overseen a series of fitness tests in the last couple of days.

The first-team squad head to Austria for a training camp next week, with the first game of Woodgate’s reign pitting Boro against a Grazer AK line-up in a friendly in Bad Aussee a week on Friday.

Meanwhile, Graeme Lee has been appointed as the lead coach of Middlesbrough’s Under-23s, replacing Paul Stephenson, who left the role last month.

Middlesbrough-born Lee has been assistant lead coach for a number of years, having previously enjoyed a successful playing career that saw him represent a number of clubs including Hartlepool United and Darlington. His first game in charge of the Under-23s will be a friendly against Dunston on July 11.