NEIL WARNOCK has reaffirmed his interest in Yannick Bolasie, and revealed he has already been talking to a number of Premier League clubs about possible January loan deals.

The transfer window is due to reopen on Friday, and Warnock has repeatedly spelled out his desire to recruit a couple of attacking players to strengthen his squad for the second half of the season.

While the Boro boss has confirmed his interest in an attacking target based overseas, he has accepted next month will almost certainly not be the time to gamble on an unproven youngster with no prior experience of the Championship.

Premier League loan deals will be at the top of his agenda instead, and while Bolasie has hinted he would like to see if there is any top-flight interest before dropping down to the second tier, Warnock is keen to resurrect his interest in the Everton forward, who came close to moving to Teesside in the autumn, only for a proposed transfer to collapse on deadline day.

“He’s (Bolasie) one of the names mentioned, and we are looking for a wide player that can contribute to some goals as well,” said Warnock, who takes his Boro side to Hillsborough this evening to face Sheffield Wednesday. “He’s one of those, and I obviously know him from my Palace days. I wouldn’t write him off, but at the same time, I wouldn’t say that he’s definitely going to be here either.”

Warnock has held discussions with Steve Gibson and Neil Bausor during Boro’s enforced Christmas break, and remains confident he will be backed as he looks to reinforce his attacking options.

“It’s really loans we’re looking at,” he added. “They’re the ones we’ve been concentrating on and we’ve been down the line with a couple.

“We’ve been talking to clubs, that’s what you’ve got to do. I’ve been talking to Premier League managers as well – I spoke to one yesterday, but they want to wait until the end of the window before they decide in case they get any other injuries, and you can’t blame them for that.”

Duncan Watmore’s position remains in something of a state of flux, with the former Sunderland winger currently only contracted until the middle of next month.

Warnock wants to retain the 26-year-old until at least the end of the season, but while he remains confident a deal will eventually be agreed, he has hinted the input of agents is beginning to cause complications.

“I’ll have another chat with him today after training,” said the Boro boss. “I hope he stays. I’d like him to stay, and I think it would be the right decision for both parties. But sometimes, you get advice and you tend to listen to that advice at times. I’m not sure it’s always the right advice, so we’ll have to see.

“If he was a younger lad and he hadn’t had so many injuries, it might be a different ball game. I think then, you want to play and financially you need this, that and the other. I’m not sure the financial side should be Duncan’s priority at the moment, if I was advising him. He’s playing somewhere he’s wanted with players he’s used to, and getting some game time and enjoying himself. He’s been out that long he has to try to enjoy it, and I think he is at the minute.”

Watmore will hope to start against Sheffield Wednesday this evening, with Warnock set to be selecting from the same squad that was involved in the 4-1 win at Birmingham that preceded the Christmas hiatus.

A couple of key figures should be returning by the middle of next month though, with Jonny Howson and Ashley Fletcher both having stepped up their recovery programmes in the last 24 hours.

“Jonny is still out, but he’s busting a gut to get back,” said Warnock. “It’s the physios that are trying to hold him back. It wouldn’t surprise me to possibly see Jonny available for part of the cup game (at Brentford).

“I’d say Ashley is just two to three weeks away now. Looking at him yesterday, wow, he looked really good. He said he’s feeling really well, and he’s stepping up his training fully. He’s going to go into a two-week training with the fitness guys. He’ll be busting a gut. Talking to him yesterday, he’s been watching the team and he’s been enjoying what he’s been seeing. It’s good to know that he’s close to coming back.”

Middlesbrough (probable, 4-3-3): Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair, Bola; Saville, Morsy, Tavernier; Watmore, Akpom, Johnson.