MATTHEW HOPPE is determined to force his way into the first-team picture at Middlesbrough after returning from a successful loan spell in the United States.

Hoppe is back on Teesside after his loan deal with MLS side San Jose Earthquakes came to an end, and was at Elland Road at the weekend watching Boro’s 3-2 defeat to Leeds United.

While the 22-year-old’s loan agreement with San Jose contained a clause that could have led to a permanent transfer, the option has not been triggered and he has returned to England.

The decision not to enact the clause was a mutual one, with Hoppe keen to prove himself with Boro after struggling to make an impression in the immediate aftermath of his move from Real Mallorca in the summer of 2022.

The US international was labelled a “development signing” by former boss Chris Wilder, who was reluctant to give him too many opportunities in the senior line-up.

Hoppe made three substitute appearances under Michael Carrick before heading to Scotland in the second half of last season to play for Premier League side Hibernian.

He was involved in Boro’s pre-season programme, but returned to his homeland to play for San Jose and scored two goals in his eight appearances for the MLS side.

Player registration rules mean that although his loan in the US has officially come to an end, he cannot play for Middlesbrough until the transfer window reopens at the start of next month.


He can, however, train with Carrick’s first-team squad at Rockliffe Park, and he will hope to use the next four weeks to force his way into the head coach’s plans for the second half of the season.

Emmanuel Latte Lath and Josh Coburn are currently the only senior strikers on Boro’s books, and while Carrick and the rest of the club’s recruitment team are known to be assessing potential attacking options ahead of the reopening of the window, there is a potential place for Hoppe in the first-team group if he can prove his worth.

The forward still has two-and-a-half years of his contract with Boro to run, and Carrick has shown that he is willing to work with young players in order to improve them and integrate them into the senior squad.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough Women’s league game against Chorley, which was postponed because of a clash with the Women’s FA Cup, has been rearranged for Sunderland, December 17 (2pm).