MIDDLESBROUGH’S hopes of re-signing Ben Gibson have increased as Burnley are struggling to come up with alternative options for the Teessider.

Gibson has no future under Clarets boss Sean Dyche, with his lack of involvement at the weekend underlining the extent to which he has been frozen out of the first-team picture at Turf Moor. Burnley played two separate friendly games on Saturday, with Dyche splitting his squad into two teams, but despite 27 different players being involved in the matches, Gibson was not named as either a starter or a substitute.

Dyche is determined to move the centre-half out of the club this summer, either permanently or on loan, but despite clubs across England and the rest of Europe being alerted to Gibson’s availability, Burnley are yet to receive a single viable offer.

Norwich City lodged an interest earlier this month, but the Canaries have opted to look elsewhere as they look to restructure their squad in the wake of relegation. A couple of Premier League sides are understood to have been interested at the start of the summer, but both have now identified alternative targets they are pursuing.

Gibson’s £15m price tag and wages of more than £40,000-a-week make it extremely difficult for the vast majority of clubs in the Championship to afford him, and having started the close season insisting they wanted the vast majority of the defender’s wages off their books, the Burnley hierarchy are gradually having to accept that will be all but impossible in the current climate.

As a result, Boro find themselves in a position where they could be able to put together a package that would be deemed an acceptable compromise, even though the indications earlier in the summer were that it would be rejected.

The Teessiders cannot afford to pay Gibson’s full wages as that would prevent them from being able to make further signings and remain within the parameters laid down by the Financial Fair Play rules, but it is hoped a deal could be struck that would see Burnley continue to pay a sizeable proportion of the 27-year-old’s pay packet even though he was no longer playing for the club.

Having spent the latter stages of last season training at Boro’s Rockliffe Park complex, Gibson is open to the idea of rejoining his hometown club for the whole of next season before making a decision on his longer-term future next summer.

Neil Warnock has already signed Grant Hall, but the departure of Daniel Ayala, Ryan Shotton and George Friend since the end of last season means there are still defensive gaps to be plugged.

Warnock remains keen to make reinforcements in a number of different areas this summer, but his attempts to sigh a new goalkeeper have been frustrated in the last few days. Newcastle are adamant they will not be allowing Karl Darlow to leave, a stance that became even firmer when their first-choice goalkeeper, Martin Dubravka, suffered an injury that will rule him out of the start of the season, while Charlton Athletic are refusing to lower their valuation of Dillon Phillips, who is another Boro target.

Having returned from a training camp in Cornwall, Boro’s players will complete their pre-season preparations when they host Newcastle in a behind-closed-doors friendly tomorrow.