MIDDLESBROUGH expect to learn Bournemouth’s plans for Jack Simpson in the next 48 hours, with Eddie Howe’s decision over the defender’s future set to be influenced by the outcome of this evening’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with Arsenal.

Jonathan Woodgate is determined to recruit another central defender before the transfer window closes on Friday evening, and while talks over former Boro skipper Ben Gibson remain ongoing, Simpson is regarded as a viable alternative to the Burnley centre-half.

The 23-year-old is keen to leave the Vitality Stadium to increase his chances of securing regular first-team football in the final three-and-a-half months of the season, and Howe has hinted he is willing to let him drop down to the Championship.

However, with the Bournemouth boss keen to rest a number of his Premier League starters, Simpson is set to feature in the Cherries squad for this evening’s cup tie with Arsenal. If Bournemouth win or lose, he is likely to be loaned out ahead of Friday’s deadline. However, if tonight’s game ends in a draw, resulting in a replay, Howe could opt to keep Simpson in his squad ahead of the rematch.

Boro are not the only Championship club interested in recruiting Simpson, with Derby County and Stoke City also having held discussions with Bournemouth officials. However, with Daniel Ayala, Dael Fry, Ryan Shotton and George Friend all currently injured, Boro can offer the defender the quickest route to the first team.

“He is a player of huge potential and promise, but is coming to an age where he probably feels he needs regular football,” admitted Howe. “But it’s obviously got to be right for us and for him.

“He’s got that rare composure on the ball. I remember one of the early performances he gave at Chelsea, as good a performance I’ve seen with the ball from a centre-half in a long, long time.

“He’s got that ability to find passes under pressure. He seems to rise to the occasion, which is a great quality to have mentally. Physically he’s good. He is six foot three, he can head the ball and is athletic. He does have everything, the only thing missing for Jack is the experience that a lot of the other players have.

“I back him to get there whether that’s with us, in terms in getting in our team, or maybe looking out on loan.”

Boro have also been linked with a possible move for Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers, who was recalled from a loan spell at Stoke earlier this month.

Carter-Vickers made 12 Championship starts for the Potters, but Spurs are looking to send him elsewhere for the second half of the season. However, at this stage, Boro appear to be keener on Simpson than the 22-year-old Spurs man, who has previously had loan spells at Sheffield United, Ipswich and Swansea.

Gibson’s future remains the subject of considerable conjecture, with Boro having made a number of inquiries about a possible loan deal this month.

The Teessider was not involved in Burnley’s weekend FA cup defeat to Norwich City as he is struggling with a groin issue, and Dyche has repeatedly insisted he will not be leaving Turf Moor this month unless a replacement is already in place.

When asked whether there had been any developments with regards to Gibson’s position in the wake of Saturday’s game, Dyche said: “There might be, but there might not be.”

Gibson’s wages remain problematic, with the 27-year-old understood to be earning around £50,000-a-week with the Clarets.