JONATHAN WOODGATE is considering throwing Patrick Roberts and Lukas Nmecha straight into his starting line-up for Sunday’s FA Cup third-round game against Tottenham.

The Manchester City youngsters have both signed season-long loans with Middlesbrough, and trained with their new team-mates at Rockliffe Park for the first time this morning.

They are available to line up at the Riverside at the weekend, and Woodgate is pondering whether to throw them straight into battle against Spurs.

He said: “I’ll have to see if they go straight in for the Spurs game. I’ll have to make up my mind on that, but they’re definitely in contention.

“As you’ve seen all season, we’ve been really low on numbers and thin on the ground. You don’t moan about it though, you get on with it, and these two players will come in and boost the squad.”

Roberts spent the first half of the season on loan at Norwich City, while Nmecha has been playing in Germany with Wolfsburg, but neither player was able to hold down a first-team place.

However, they have impressed in British football before – Roberts with Celtic and Nmecha at Preston – and Woodgate is confident they will make a major impact on Teesside.

He said: “I’m really pleased to get them both in. Lukas and Patrick will be really good player for the football club, and it’s great to get the business done early, which is something we wanted to do. We wanted to get the full games in in January with them, I didn’t see the point in getting them in towards the end of the month. Get them in now, get them settled, and get some games under their belt, then they can kick on.

“They’re two extremely talented footballers. Okay, it hasn’t worked out for Patrick at Norwich or Lukas at Wolfsburg, but they’re in the top division in the Premier League and the Bundesliga. They weren’t getting enough game time, so I spoke to Man City and went to see the two players face-to-face, and I thought it was a good decision for the football club.”

While Roberts and Nmecha could be involved on Sunday, Daniel Ayala will miss out after injuring his ankle in the New Year’s Day win at Preston.

Woodgate said: “Hopefully we’ll know more about Dani in the next 72 hours, but he definitely won’t play this weekend. Obviously, it was a blow for him to go off and I was gutted when he got injured because I know how important he is to us.

“At the minute, we haven’t got many numbers in that area, but I thought Dael Fry stepped up and Jonny Howson has been fantastic for us all season. I put Paddy McNair there, another central midfielder playing centre-back, and they all stood up to the challenge.”