JONATHAN WOODGATE will give Rudy Gestede every chance of resurrecting his career at Middlesbrough, and is determined to hold on to the striker beyond the end of the various international transfer windows.

Gestede has struggled to make an impact since joining Boro in a £6m move from Blackburn Rovers in January 2017, with a succession of injury problems and some inconsistent form hampering his attempts to establish himself on Teesside.

His only start in the current campaign did not go to plan – he was booed off when he was replaced midway through the second half of this month’s Carabao Cup defeat to Crewe Alexandra – and after missing the league loss at Blackburn through injury, his involvement in Tuesday’s win over Wigan Athletic was restricted to an 89th-minute appearance from the substitutes’ bench.

He has come close to leaving the North-East on a number of occasions in the last two-and-a-half years – once, he even drove to Millwall to hold two-day talks before turning around to head back up the M1 after rejecting the chance of a move to the New Den – and was widely regarded as one of the players most at risk as Woodgate looked to shuffle his squad this summer.

However, despite inquiries from a couple of Championship clubs, Gestede remained on Boro’s books when the domestic transfer window closed earlier this month.

There is still a chance he could move abroad in the next couple of weeks, with Turkish side Besiktas understood to be interested in a possible move after scouting the 30-year-old extensively in the past. The Turkish transfer window is still open – Trabzonspor signed former England international Daniel Sturridge earlier this week – and Besiktas are known to be keen to bolster their attacking ranks.

In some ways, it would make sense for Boro to move Gestede on. The Benin international is one of the higher-paid members of the current squad, having signed for Aitor Karanka at a time when the Spaniard was battling to try to keep the club in the Premier League, and with his current contract due to expire at the end of the season, this is the last realistic opportunity to recoup even a portion of the fee that was paid out to sign the striker.

However, Woodgate is adamant he cannot afford to lose any more of his senior players, with his attacking resources especially stretched after Boro’s recruitment team failed to make a signing on transfer-deadline day.

Despite pursuing a number of targets, Boro were unable to add to their attacking ranks before the window closed, meaning Gestede and Ashley Fletcher are the only senior alternatives to first-choice forward Britt Assombalonga. Given that Woodgate wants to continue fielding Fletcher in a wide-attacking role, Gestede would almost certainly have to start if Assombalonga was to be injured or suspended.

Stephen Walker played for the opening 45 minutes of the Carabao Cup tie, and is regarded as a bright prospect. However, the Berwick Hills youngster does not turn 19 until October and has played just seven minutes of Championship football. Clearly, having to rely on him at this stage of his career would be a major risk.

Gestede will be part of the squad for tomorrow’s home game with Millwall, with the visitors to the Riverside currently reeling from their Wednesday-night thumping at the hands of London rivals Fulham.

“We got pulled from pillar to post by very good players, so there’s a lot for us to work on,” conceded Lions boss Neil Harris, after his side lost their unbeaten record as they were thrashed 4-0 at Craven Cottage. “Now it’s about having a good reaction on Saturday against Middlesbrough.”