MIDDLESBROUGH remain hopeful of making at least one addition ahead of this weekend’s Championship game with Bournemouth, with last night’s Carabao Cup defeat to Barnsley having exposed the shortcomings of Neil Warnock’s squad.

First-half goals from Patrick Schmidt and Jordan Williams enabled Barnsley to set up a third-round trip to Chelsea, and condemned Boro to their second defeat in the space of five days.

Warnock is desperate to sign another central defender and at least one centre-forward before the transfer window closes next month, with Kenneth Zohore still understood to be a live target despite strong competing interest from Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County.

With Warnock watching on from the stands last night, Kevin Blackwell and Ronnie Jepson controlled things from the technical area at the Riverside, and the latter accepts there is an acute need to strengthen the squad.

“I don’t know where we are in the transfer market, it’s not for me to comment on that, but the gaffer is working on that with the powers that be,” said Jepson, who is Boro’s first-team coach. “We’ll always strive to get better players.

“I’ve got to say, the younger lads who are in and around it have shown a great attitude, but whether they’re ready yet is another question. You know how tough the Championship is and the squad you need, especially after the international break when the games come thick and fast.”

On a disappointing night from a Boro perspective, one of the few positives was Sam Morsy’s debut performance following last week’s move from Wigan Athletic.

The midfielder looked neat and tidy as he played for the opening hour, and his performance means he has successfully thrust himself into contention for a starting spot in Saturday’s Championship home game against Bournemouth.

“We knew exactly what he’d bring,” said Jepson. “He does what it says on the tin. It was great for him to get 60 minutes tonight under his belt, although he’ll definitely improve.

“He’s been fantastic since he’s come in. Every club he’s been at, he’s been captain so that tells you everything. Paul Cook (Wigan boss) speaks very highly of him, he had him at Chesterfield and Wigan.

“We know Sam, we’ve seen him for years, he fits the bill and will improve the squad. You need a presence in the Championship.

“We’ve got leaders who show in their actions and not just the voice, so we have both. Sam Morsy will give us extra edge with how he gets about it, he’ll be moaning at everybody.”