JONATHAN WOODGATE has the backing from the boardroom that he can turn Middlesbrough around amid claims he is about to lose his job.

Speculation has grown in the last 48 hours that Boro have considered their options to replace the 39-year-old following Saturday’s heavy 4-0 defeat at Leeds United.

Much-travelled former Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock, 71, has reportedly been lined up as his replacement but The Northern Echo understands chairman Steve Gibson still has faith in Woodgate.

Middlesbrough-born Woodgate has found it hard to deliver positive results since taking over in the summer, but there had been signs of improvement before succumbing to a powerful Leeds over the weekend.

Yet he still has a dressing room united behind him and he has maintained a positive outlook that things will eventually turn around so that Middlesbrough will avoid a drop in to League One like North-East neighbours Sunderland did in 2018.

Crucially, Gibson is not planning a change at this stage, believing Woodgate needs more time for his methods and outlook to work after taking over during a difficult period.

Woodgate was only able to bring in three outfield signings last summer, all with a lack of Championship experience, and he lost more important players such as Stewart Downing, John Obi Mikel and Aden Flint, as well as Martin Braithwaite. Jordan Hugill and Mo Besic also left at the end of their loans.

He has repeatedly stressed how his squad is lacking in numbers and suggested over the weekend that the chairman “will be on the same page as me on that one”. Just last week he admitted he was looking at loan deals, and possible transfers if achievable.

Such deals in January will be determined by how much money there is flying around because Gibson and chief executive Neil Bausor are trying to ensure the club adheres within Financial Fair Play rules.

When Woodgate was appointed he was part of the club’s new vision for the future, with head of recruitment Adrian Bevington revealing a push for Middlesbrough to develop a model and ethos running through its ranks.

Clearly the start of that restructuring has not gone to plan and Middlesbrough are set for a huge summer come the end of this season when there are seven players out of contract.

That should enable to Middlesbrough to reduce its wage bill that currently stands at around the £22m mark, although Woodgate is crying out for some new additions when the window opens next month.

But with the pressure mounting on Woodgate, and certain fans starting to call for a change, he must come up with a way to ensure Middlesbrough climb clear of safety and stay a Championship outfit regardless of the situation.

There was still a lot of support for him and Middlesbrough at Leeds. Woodgate said: “The fans have been really good to me, I've got to applaud them for going all that way and seeing their team get beat 4-0 but still staying to the end and applauding the players. The fans will stick by you.”

That defeat is what led to the speculation surrounding his future, based on Warnock’s good relationship with Gibson and the fact the experienced Football League manager is out of work.  Woodgate will come up against his old Leeds room mate Lee Bowyer on Saturday when Middlesbrough will be looking to boost the chances of survival by beating a team around them in Charlton.

Bowyer has had 14 players on the sidelines and that has contributed to a run of seven games without a win that has seen the Addicks drop to within six points of the Teessiders after a decent start following promotion from League One.

Of Middlesbrough’s extensive injury list only Rudy Gestede is anywhere near to making a comeback.  The Benin striker was due to restart training last week and Woodgate is monitoring his progress now ahead of this weekend, particularly with Assombalonga nursing an ankle issue.

Assombalonga and Paddy McNair had to play at Leeds with injuries that have caused problems in recent weeks and in an ideal situation both would have been rested to allow the issues to have sorted.

Now the duo will have to be assessed inn the coming days to determine whether they can face Charlton, with Woodgate knowing he will already be without George Friend, Darren Randolph, Marcus Browne and Ryan Shotton for the rest of the year.

 That is why Gestede, the only experienced alternative to Assombalonga and Ashley Fletcher, could have a big role to play if he can prove his fitness.  Tyrone O'Neill and Stephen Walker both had to come on as second half substitutes at Elland Road because of the lack of options in the final third. It was great for the young duo to have first team experience in such a big occasion but Woodgate would have preferred to have given them opportunities in better circumstances.

Middlesbrough took 11 graduates of the club's academy system as part of the travelling party to Leeds in another indication of how slim the squad is. Hayden Coulson would have started that day but suffered an injury beforehand.