JONATHAN WOODGATE geared up for tonight’s return to Championship action by signing a new goalkeeper to replace Darren Randolph.

Woodgate, whose side face Fulham at Craven Cottage, last night signed St Gallen’s Dejan Stojanovic.

A fee believed to be around £1m was agreed for Stojanovic, who arrives after Randolph’s £4m move to West Ham United went through on Wednesday.

Stojanovic, 26, has signed a three-and-a-half year contract and will link up with his new team-mates on Sunday.

Woodgate said: “We’re delighted to be able to sign Dejan. With Darren joining West Ham it was important that we added competition for the goalkeepers who are here.”

Stojanovic had been on Middlesbrough’s radar for some time as plans were put in place in preparation for the day when Randolph left.

An Austrian-born Macedonian, Stojanovic has spent the last few years playing in Switzerland.

The former Macedonian Under-21 international had three years with Bologna in Italy before joining St Gallen in 2016.

He will compete for a place in Woodgate’s starting XI with Aynsley Pears and Tomas Mejias.

During Randolph’s recent spell on the sidelines, County Durham-born Pears has done his chances the world of good by proving he can handle the first team stage.

After missing out against Tottenham, Pears is expected to start tonight against Fulham.

And midfielder Adam Clayton does not see any reason why Middlesbrough should head to promotion-chasing Fulham concerned – after all Woodgate’s men have already halted title-chasers West Brom on their travels in recent weeks.

Clayton, who has been in and out of the Boro side this season, was part of that team that impressively won at The Hawthorns on December 29 when the standard of performance suddenly filled players, staff and fans with greater confidence.

Woodgate is sure to be considering fielding the same sort of side that overcame West Brom at Fulham in the hope of a repeat, although Middlesbrough have tended to be playing well regardless of their shape and personnel of late.

Clayton said: “I wouldn’t say we go there expecting to win, I’d say we go there expecting to perform. If we perform, I think we can beat Fulham, I think we can beat anyone in the Championship when we play the way we’ve played. 

“We showed that away at West Brom, who were top of the league, and away at Preston, who had the best home record in the Championship.

Clayton added: “We’ll go there and as long as we keep the work ethic up and the running we’ve been putting in, some of the lads have been doing over 1,200 high intensity in every game, then we’ll be good. They’re unbelievable numbers to be doing week in, week out, so we’ve got to keep them things up and we’ll be OK.

“The bar has been raised, but that’s what we want. I said after the West Brom game, I’ve been waiting for that feeling of going to a top team and getting a proper away result. It was a proper day, like we’ve had for the last four years.”

Clayton has enjoyed a successful five-and-a-half years at the Riverside by and large since moving from Huddersfield in the summer of 2014. He feels the recent resurgence has brought the feelgood factor back. 

“It felt like the old Boro again,” he said. “We can go to places and win, and we’re a force to be reckoned with. It was really refreshing and I think the young lads have felt that for the first time. I think they believe now, which is probably the biggest thing, especially after the start to the season. 

“I thought we played well at Luton and Brentford and didn’t really get the result, and then confidence went a little bit. If those two had gone the other way, this run could have started a lot earlier. But we’ll keep training hard. The gaffer’s sessions are top class, with Robbie and Leo, and we’ll keep going and enjoying it day to day.”

Middlesbrough’s squad has stayed down in London since losing at Tottenham in the FA Cup on Tuesday, training at Crystal Palace on Wednesday and Thursday before heading over to West London.

Clayton, who recently became a father for the first time, said: “Staying down won’t affect anything. We’re in a seven-star hotel – my room is bigger than my house. 

“I’m away from my new daughter for the first time properly so that’s a bit tough, but at least I got a good kip last night! I think the best decision that could have been made was to stay down. 

“We can train, rest and get ready, and then we’ll be home to see the families in three or four days. This is our job, this is our life, so we’ll be ready for Friday no matter what.”

And he thinks Jonny Howson, who was guilty of an error at Tottenham after an impressive season, and Paddy McNair deserve special praise for their performances at the back this season. They have both been asked to slot in because of injuries to Daniel Ayala, Ryan Shotton and George Friend.

Clayton said: “You’d think Jonny Howson had played centre-half for ten years the way he plays. He’s just a top professional, and the same is true of Paddy. 

“I think he maybe started at centre-half did he? He’s slotted in there and been brilliant too. It just shows everyone is playing for each other, and everyone is running that extra yard for each other. At the moment, things are working for us.”