MIDDLESBROUGH’S management will hold talks with members of the first-team squad today over their futures with manager Chris Wilder set to make wholesale changes ahead of a summer rebuild.

The Boro boss has hinted that his captain Jonny Howson will be offered a new contract but other players in the squad will learn their fate throughout the course of the day and find out whether they will stay or leave the club.

Sol Bamba, Lee Peltier and Neil Taylor are the three others who are all out of contract in the summer and loan quartet Andraz Sporar, Aaron Connolly, Folarin Balogun and James Lea-Siliki will all return to their parent clubs. However, the expectation is that Wilder will wield the axe ahead of next season where he will be expected to mount a promotion push to the Premier League.

“You’ll see. And these are the levels that I think are needed” said the Boro boss.

“From a work point of view, ideally I’d just like to tweak and do two or three, three or four. But I think you’ll see the level (of the rebuild). I’m not doing it just for the sake of it, I’m doing it to make the football club better.

“We need to come into games like today (against Preston) and it be a probability that we get in (the play-offs), not a possibility. I’m not saying that we’re going to make the changes that will go flying into us.

“I think we all know how uneven the playing field is in the Championship because of parachute payments, and obviously something needs to be done about it. The teams that come down have a huge advantage to go back up, as seen. Bournemouth have one season out, but go up in their second season. Fulham go straight back up and Sheffield United I think will be looking at it, even getting the play-offs, and thinking they’ve underachieved. I don’t think we’ve underachieved.

“I think we’ve got the maximum out of the players. But now the ambition is the rebuild to then really push next season. We’ve got the support, we’ve got the infrastructure and we’ve got the chairman. We’ve got knowledge and experience in the coaching team. I’ve been there before and done it, as the staff have. Now I’ve got to do the hard thing which is bringing the players in.”

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder.Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder.

The Boro boss has shown he isn’t afraid to transfer list players he doesn’t believe are the right fit for the club based on the evidence in the January transfer window. Uche Ikpeazu, Marcus Browne and Onel Hernandez were all free to leave following conversations with the manager.

Whilst Wilder is set to let a lot of players leave the club, the manager is keen to make advances in bringing his identified targets in the summer.

Evidence in the past suggests that he and Head of Football Kieran Scott will have been working ahead of time to orchestrate deals for targets. There is a task to convince them to come to the football club but the manager wants players with the right mindset in his side.

Wilder continued: “In a way, it’s difficult, of course, but in a way, easy as well. I think players coming in will have seen what’s happened, the level of support we’ve had, 9,500 at Old Trafford, the cup games against Tottenham and Chelsea and the games on Sky where, at our best, this is an attractive club to come to. I’ll do my best to attract some really good players - and players with good attitudes as well.

“Attitude over ability because the mentality of the group is key for me now. The culture of the football club is key for me now. I think you can here in my tone right now, I’m not downbeat about it. In a way, I’m quite excited about the future.

“The fire inside of me is bigger than it’s ever been. You might think, ‘hang on a minute, individually you’ve achieved this and achieved that; managed in the Premier League’. But more than I’ve felt for a long time, I’m so ambitious to reward those fans and reward our owner and the other people at the football club.”

When Wilder was appointed at the back end of 2021, he was tasked with changing the fortunes of a football club that looked like it was drifting further away from mounting any kind of push for promotion.

Whilst he succeeded in doing that taking their race for the play-offs to the final day of the season, there has been an element of frustration in there being a lack of opportunity in making the changes he’d like to.

“It always had been. It has been since November. It’s been difficult because I’ve known what I’ve wanted to do” Wilder continued.

“The level of work that you can do in January is pretty tough. We wanted to bring forwards in and it was difficult. The options in January for everybody in the Championship. Forest bought Kienan Davis in and spent two million on Sam Surridge and did a couple of bits but nobody else.

“We did a couple to try and improve that area so it’s always been a medium and long term job."

Wilder also admitted his frustration at not being able to be completely honest about what intentions are with some his players as he added: “The issue of I’ve had is I can’t come out and say what I really want to say because they’re still playing and giving everything.

“I don’t think, from a motivation point of view, the players would have taken too kindly to me saying, ‘give it a good go until the end of this season, but then I’m going to let a load of you go and there’s going to be a big rebuild’. But basically, now, there is going to be a big rebuild and I am going to let a load of you go, as you’ll see in the next couple of days.”