MIDDLESBROUGH have completed the signing of Luke Thomas on a season-long loan from Championship rivals Leicester City.

The 22-year-old can play at either left-back or left wing-back, and will challenge Lukas Engel for a place on the left side of the Boro defence.

He effectively replaces Alex Bangura, who is facing a long-term absence after suffering an injury in the first half of the Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg win over Chelsea.

A product of Leicester’s academy, Thomas already boasts almost 100 senior appearances, 68 of which came during the Foxes’ time in the Premier League.

An England international at Under-18s and Under-21s level, the defender joined Sheffield United on a season-long loan last summer, but struggled to establish himself with the Blades in the first half of the campaign.

He made 11 league starts for Sheffield United, but lost his place under former Boro boss Chris Wilder and was recalled to the King Power Stadium earlier this month.


He does not form part of Enzo Maresca’s plans at Leicester though, and has been allowed to join Boro for the remainder of the season.

“We’re delighted to bring Luke to the club,” said Boro head coach Michael Carrick. “He’s a good addition to the squad. He has plenty of experience, and he will bring a balance to what we have. We’re looking forward to working with him.”

Thomas will be available to make his Boro debut in the Tees-Wear derby against a week on Sunday.

The defender is the third player to join the Teessiders this month, following Finn Azaz, who was signed on a permanent basis from Aston Villa after a previous loan spell at Plymouth Argyle, and Luke Ayling, who joined on loan from Leeds United.

There is still a chance the club could make one more addition before the transfer window swings shut next Thursday night, with a number of striking options being assessed.

There is an acceptance that Boro are somewhat light in the attacking areas, with Emmanuel Latte Lath still ruled out because of injury, leaving Josh Coburn as the only natural centre-forward available.

However, with Morgan Rogers, Matt Crooks and Marcus Forss all able to play as the central striker, there is also an understandable reluctance to make a signing out of desperation. Boro’s recruitment team will continue to monitor the situation, but could opt to wait until the summer to see if more desirable long-term options become available.

Much could depend on Rogers’ position, with Aston Villa expected to table a final offer for the forward ahead of Thursday’s deadline after having had two bids turned down in the last week.