MICHAEL CARRICK is hoping Middlesbrough will benefit from having completed Cameron Archer’s loan signing from Aston Villa at such an early stage of the January transfer window.

Archer joined Boro on a season-long loan on Friday and made his debut for the club in yesterday’s 5-1 FA Cup third-round defeat to Brighton.

The Teessiders moved quickly to land Archer in the first week of the window, beating off competition from a number of rival clubs including Championship side Preston in order to secure the 21-year-old’s signature.

Archer’s arrival places a huge question mark over the future of fellow loan signing Rodrigo Muniz, who was an unused substitute yesterday, with Carrick looking forward to adding the Villa youngster to a forward line that also features Marcus Forss, Matthew Hoppe and the repositioned Matt Crooks.

Carrick said: “The earlier you can get a player in, the better. We’ve got a plan, although sometimes you have to go to Plan B and Plan C in order to make things happen in January.

“We’ve got a plan, we know what we’re trying to achieve, and getting players in early is obviously helpful for both the player, in terms of being able to settle, get to know people and get to know how we do things, and for us as a club to have more options.

“I think we’ve got good attacking options - Crooksy and Marcus have done really well up top over recent weeks, scoring goals and getting assists – but Cam gives us another option and something a bit different up front. We’re going to need that between now and the end of the season.”