MATT CROOKS is on the verge of leaving Middlesbrough for American side Real Salt Lake, with Michael Carrick confident his side can cope in the versatile forward’s absence if his proposed Stateside switch goes through.

Crooks has been offered a permanent move to the MLS, and has expressed a desire to leave England to experience a new lifestyle in the US.

The 30-year-old is in the final 18 months of his contract at the Riverside, having signed a new deal last summer, and Boro could have opted to hold on to him and prevent him from travelling the States.


However, Carrick and the rest of the club’s hierarchy have decided they cannot stand in his way, with Boro set to receive a significant fee from Real Salt Lake. Crooks is due to travel to the US in the next 48 hours, with American clubs able to make signings until April.

“I can give you the latest, Crooksy’s going to travel over to America in the next day or two,” said Carrick. “It’s one of those, and I said similar when things were happening with Morgan (Rogers), every situation is different and you have to treat each situation on its merits.

“For this one, for Matt and his family, it’s an opportunity that he wanted to explore. It’s almost too big for him to turn down, really. We respected that. It is what it is. It’s not done at this moment in time, so whether it gets done or not, we’ll have to see. He is travelling over there to have a medical though and see what comes of it.”

With Boro having failed to recruit a centre-forward during last month’s transfer window, Crooks’ exit will further reduce the club’s attacking options.

The former Rotherham man has played in a variety of different roles this season, occasionally slotting in as the central striker in the absence of Josh Coburn, who is having to be managed because of a long-standing groin issue, and Emmanuel Latte Lath, who remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

Carrick was forced to play Sam Greenwood through the middle in last weekend’s Tees-Wear derby draw with Sunderland, but the Boro boss is adamant he has more than enough attacking options even if Crooks’ exit goes through.

“I think we’ve got enough options, I think we’ve got really good options in that part of the field,” said Carrick. “With Riley (McGree) and Sammy (Silvera) coming back in and around it, and Manu getting fit again in the not too-distant-future, I think we’ve got good options.

“Hayden (Hackney) played well as a ten at the weekend, so I think we’re flexible across the frontline. We’re creating chances, we’re looking dangerous, and I’ve got a lot of faith in the boys, whoever plays.

“It is what it is. We want to be as strong as we can, we want to be as powerful as we can, and we want to be as dangerous as we can. But I do feel that, with the players we have, we’ve got a good balance.”