JONATHAN WOODGATE insists he has not taken a gamble by signing Ravel Morrison on a season-long loan from Sheffield United.

Morrison was one of two players to join Middlesbrough on transfer deadline day – Harold Moukoudi also joined on loan from St Etienne – and the midfielder brings a considerable amount of baggage with him after a chequered career.

Once touted as a future superstar by none other than Sir Alex Ferguson, Morrison has struggled to realise his potential during spells at a host of clubs ranging from West Ham United and Birmingham City in this country to Atlas FC in Mexico and Ostersunds in Sweden.

He was not signed in time to feature in Middlesbrough’s 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers, but will hope to make his latest debut in next weekend’s game at Brentford.

“I just think he’s an absolutely outstanding player, and I think we can get the best out of him,” said Woodgate. “People say he’s had issues, but who hasn’t had issues? I’ve had a few myself. It doesn’t concern me one little bit.

“Go and meet him. I’ll bring in him here, see what you think of him. He’s a top lad, a really nice kid. Sometimes the press portray you in the wrong way, and I think that’s happened with Ravel. Listen, we all mistakes, I’ve done that myself. But he’s a good kid, a good lad. He’ll fit right into the dressing room and I’m really pleased to have him.

“We were always going to try and bring in another one in that area, and Ravel was always top of my list. I went to see Chris Wilder about eight weeks ago. I went down to his training ground before the Forest game, on the day of the game.

“Me and Neil (Bausor, Middlesbrough chief executive) spoke to him about different things, different ideas he has. I like going to speak to different managers and seeing what I can learn from them. Ravel came into the conversation because I knew he wasn’t playing and I know what type of player he is.”

Morrison’s one and only Premier League appearance for Sheffield United this season came at the end of August, but Woodgate has been impressed with the midfielder’s fitness levels.

He expects him to be involved in first-team training next week, and is confident he can prove an astute addition given that he will only turn 27 tomorrow.

“I’m not quite sure (why it hasn’t happened for him), but we’ll give him every shot to be a success,” said Woodgate. “I think he just needs a platform, and a manager who will really back him and give him that time.

“He’s only 26, he should be hitting the prime years of his career now. I’ll give it everything I’ve got to try to help him as much as I can. I’ll give him as much support as I can, and with my staff and the players we’ve got at the football club, we can get the best out of him.

“Let’s see how Ravel does, but he’s a really good kid. He’s trained this morning with Frankie (Hunter, fitness coach) and put a really good shift in. I’m pleased to have him. Sometimes you’ve got to give someone a bit of a break, and hopefully he’s got that now. It’s not a risk for me.”

Woodgate is also delighted to have signed Moukoudi, having been impressed with the centre-half when he played at the Riverside for St Etienne in pre-season.

“You have a lot of different targets, and Harold was one of them without a doubt,” he said. “He played here for St Etienne in pre-season and we noticed him then. We got a lot of good reports on him, and it was important we got another centre-half in because we were short in that area with the injuries and stuff.

“As you could see today, when we went to the four, we attacked better. It’s just difficult to start with a four because we haven’t got that natural defender and you need to stay in the game as long as you can.”

Woodgate watched his Boro side claim a point against Blackburn as Hayden Coulson’s first senior goal cancelled out Lewis Travis’ opener for Rovers.

“I thought we started off really well, on the front foot, creating chances and getting balls in the box,” he said. “Then for some reason we started giving stupid passes away, trying to do too much. In the second half, we started a lot brighter.

“They got the goal against the run of play really, a sloppy goal, we shouldn't be conceding from those types of areas, but then we got the goal back and could easily have won the game with the chances we had at the end.”