THE exit of Morgan Rogers was the headline news on transfer deadline day for Middlesbrough, who finished the January window with three new signings.

Having added Finn Azaz, Luke Ayling and Luke Thomas to their ranks, Boro's efforts to bring in an striker continued into the final days and hours of the window, but the club's recruitment team stuck to their guns and didn't panic and push for players who didn't tick the necessary boxes.

Adding a striker was seen as an option rather than a priority until Emmanuel Latte Lath suffered an ankle injury in the semi-final first leg against Chelsea. That along with Josh Coburn's troubling groin niggle that is having to be managed left Boro short up-front and several options were explored.

A permanent deal was always going to be extremely difficult in January, so Boro closely monitored the loan market - while stressing the importance of only signing players they deemed to be the right fit and who could make a difference in the second half of the season.

Boro were also keen to ensure value for money, while head coach Michael Carrick repeatedly emphasised throughout the course of the month the importance of not panicking.


While Boro were in the market for another striker to supplement Coburn and Latte Lath, there's no concern inside the club that the side will be short on goals this season. Even with Rogers having moved on, Boro have depth in attacking midfield, with Isaiah Jones, Matt Crooks, Sam Greenwood, Riley McGree, Sammy Silvera and Marcus Forss having all scored four or more goals this season.

What's not clear at this stage is how long Latte Lath will be out. Carrick is speaking to the press at Rockliffe ahead of the Sunderland game at 2pm on Friday.

Carrick says Forss could "definitely" be used as a centre-forward in the second half of the season, with January recruit Azaz - who scored seven goals in the first half of the season at Plymouth - also set to be play a key between now and May.

USA international Brandon Vazquez is a player Boro were keen on but CF Monterrey ended up paying a reported $7.5 million fee up-front with another $1 million in potential add-ons and a sell-on clause to sign the FC Cincinnati striker early in the window.

Boro were one of a number of clubs linked with Kieffer Moore in January but a move to the Riverside was never likely for the Bournemouth frontman, who joined Ipswich on deadline day. Notts County's Stockton-born Macauley Langstaff was another striker linked but he wasn't on Boro's radar.

Boro enquired about Burnley forward Manuel Benson late in the window but the 26-year-old, who was also interesting other Championship clubs, wanted to stay at Turf Moor.

Anass Zaroury was another Burnley attacker interesting a number of clubs but Hull City put together a significant financial package that meant the Tigers were always favourites to land the Moroccan.

The exit of Rogers was confirmed on deadline day morning, with the forward later taking to social media to thank "everyone associated with Boro for a memorable time".

Azaz wasn't signed as a replacement for Rogers - Villa's interest came out of the blue for Boro - but the January recruit is a natural No.10 and has been long tracked. Boro will also soon welcome back the fit-again McGree from international duty.

The exit of Calum Kavanagh on Thursday was unconnected to Boro's search for a striker. While Kavanagh has been prolific in the youth ranks, first team opportunities have been hard to come by so Boro felt the best course of action was a permanent move so the 20-year-old could kick-start his career elsewhere.

Bryant Bilongo's loan move to Ebsfleet was sanctioned after the arrival of Luke Thomas last week, with the Leicester loanee set to compete with Lukas Engel for the left-back spot, with Alex Bangura sidelined.

Luke Ayling also has the look of being a pivotal signing and is likely to be back in the starting XI against Sunderland on Sunday having been cup-tied for the second leg against Chelsea.