MIDDLESBROUGH are ready to step up their interest in striker Sam Cosgrove when the transfer window reopens next week – but Aberdeen are adamant they will not allow their leading scorer to leave on the cheap.

Jonathan Woodgate is determined to strengthen his attacking options in next month’s transfer window, and is confident the departure of former head of recruitment Adrian Bevington will not have an adverse impact on Boro’s ability to complete some January deals.

Cosgrove is a long-standing attacking target, having scored 20 goals in all competitions for Aberdeen this season, and the Teessiders are one of a number of Championship clubs expected to make a formal move for the 23-year-old at the turn of the year.

Robbie Keane travelled to Scotland to watch the Beverley-born forward at first hand last month, and Boro’s scouting team have continued to monitor him closely over the last few weeks.

Aberdeen officials accept there is likely to be strong interest from a number of quarters, with Stoke City, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City all having been linked with a possible January move.

However, while there is an acceptance the Dons could struggle to hold on to Cosgrove, despite him still having two-and-a-half years of his current deal to run, there is a determination to extract the maximum possible value for the striker.

Aberdeen’s current transfer record is the £2m Coventry City paid to sign Eoin Jess in 1996, and the Pittodrie hierarchy are adamant Cosgrove will not be moving for anything less than that. Indeed, there has been talk of a £4m fee north of the border, and while that seems ambitious, Boro will have to shell out a significant sum if they are to land arguably the hottest prospect in the SPL.

For all the talk of Financial Fair Play regulations, there is money to spend at the Riverside, and Woodgate’s ability to wheel and deal will increase if one or two of the club’s higher earners were to leave. Darren Randolph continues to be heavily linked with a possible return to West Ham, while Adam Clayton could also be jettisoned given that his contract is due to expire at the end of the season.

Peterborough’s Marcus Maddison remains a target, but given he is due to become a free agent in the summer, there is an understandable reluctance to stump up the £2.5m that would trigger his release clause.