MIDDLESBROUGH have confirmed the signing of striker Leroy Lita on a three year deal.

The former Reading marksman joins on a free transfer after Gareth Southgate successfully persuaded him to join Boro ahead of rivals Sheffield United and Leicester. In January the 24-year-old rejected a contract offer to remain with the Royals and became a free agent this summer.

The former England U21 averaged a goal every three games during his 100 appearance for Reading following his incredible 29 goal season with League One Bristol City. His arrival brings much-needed firepower to the Middlesbrough attack.

Lita said: “I’m raring to go. I haven’t enjoyed the last two seasons one bit, but this is a fresh start and I’m excited about the challenge.

“Other clubs were interested in signing me, but there was only once place I wanted to go and that was Middlesbrough.

“The manager has been after me for about a year so it’s great to feel wanted. I have a lot of respect for the gaffer and I want to do well for him and the club.

“I aim to repay him for his faith in me with goals. That’s the main strength to my game and I’m looking forward to scoring goals for Middlesbrough.”

Manager Gareth Southgate added: “Leroy has a hunger to score goals and his goalscoring record in the Championship in particular is very strong.

“His record says he gets one in two at this level so that will be important for us. I think he has a point to prove and, when he’s fully fit, he will relish the challenge.”

Despite his lack of match fitness the Congolese forward could be included in the squad that faces Sheffield United in Boro's Championship opener this Friday.