MIDDLESBROUGH are considering Bournemouth defender Jack Simpson as a loan alternative to Ben Gibson.

With all four of his senior centre-halves currently injured, Jonathan Woodgate is keen to recruit another central defender before the transfer window closes next Friday.

Gibson is his preferred option, but Burnley boss Sean Dyche remains reluctant to allow the former Boro skipper to leave this month despite having failed to select him for a single Premier League game this season.

Boro officials have held a number of discussions with their counterparts at Turf Moor, but have been unable to strike a deal for a season-long loan, forcing Woodgate to begin to look elsewhere.

Simpson is regarded a potential alternative, with Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe considering loaning out the 23-year-old for the second half of the season in order to increase his prospects of playing regular football.

An England Under-21 international who has been part of Bournemouth’s set-up since the age of 12, Simpson made his Cherries debut in a League Cup win over Middlesbrough in 2017. He has made four senior starts this season, but has not featured in the Premier League since making a brief substitute appearance in a 4-0 defeat at West Ham United on New Year’s Day.

“He’s a lovely footballer,” said Howe, when asked whether Simpson would benefit from a loan move to the Championship. “He’s obviously a really good size so he adds aerially and physically. He’s got a really nice mentality, a very good attitude.”

Simpson would have a decent chance of playing first-team football with Boro, although the Teessiders are not the only Championship club to have expressed an interest in securing his services in the last few days.

Derby County and Stoke City have also held talks with Bournemouth officials, with a final decision over Simpson’s future expected next week. By that stage, Boro will hope to have received further guidance from Burnley over the likelihood of Gibson being allowed to leave.

Woodgate remains keen to make another couple of additions in the next seven days, although his need for another centre-forward has reduced markedly since the start of the month and he is now unlikely to recruit another striker unless someone leaves.

With Britt Assombalonga hoping to be available for Boro’s next game against Blackburn Rovers a week tomorrow, and Lukas Nmecha having bedded himself in to provide competition for Ashley Fletcher and Rudy Gestede, Woodgate’s attacking resources are now reasonably well stocked.

That would change if Assombalonga was to depart before the window closed, but while Leeds United and Aston Villa have both expressed an interest in Boro’s record signing, neither has yet come up with a firm bid.

Meanwhile, Boro’s home game with Nottingham Forest has been selected for live coverage on Sky Sports and will now take place on Monday, March 2 (7.45pm). The home game with Leeds will also be televised, but remains scheduled for Wednesday, February 26 (7.45pm).