TONY Mowbray is ready to lose David Wheater, Gary O'Neil and Kris Boyd during the January transfer window in order to raise the funds and wages required to make signings of his own.

Mowbray is firming up his plans for next month's transfer merry-go-round, and while he remains confident chairman Steve Gibson will do all he can to support his squad strengthening project, the Middlesbrough manager accepts there will have to be some high-profile exits before players can arrive on Teesside.

Wheater, O'Neil and Boyd have been mainstays of Boro's first-team squad this season, but all three will be offered to Premier League suitors next month.

There are contractual motives behind Wheater's exit, as the centre-half is due to become a free agent in the summer and this is Boro's final chance to get a fee for his services. Aston Villa, Stoke and Wolves have all been linked with a January move for the Redcar-born defender, and the high level of interest could drive his price towards the £2m mark.

Boro will not receive a similar fee for either O'Neil or Boyd, but the departure of both players would have a major impact on the size of the club's wage bill, which is still understood to be the highest in the Championship.

O'Neil has been linked with a possible loan move to either Stoke or Bolton, and both clubs are understood to have expressed a willingness to consider a more permanent move next summer.

Boyd's stock has fallen considerably in the last four months - the Scotland international has only managed five goals in 19 Championship appearances - but he was still mentioned as a target of the new Blackburn board in the heated discussions that led to the shock departure of Sam Allardyce.

Admittedly, Allardyce told the Rovers hierarchy he had no interest in signing the Middlesbrough striker, but confirmation of top-flight interest will nevertheless have strengthened Mowbray's resolve to part company with a player who has started just one of Boro's last five matches.

"When January comes, we will have to wait and see how things unfold," said the Middlesbrough manager, who will take his side to Doncaster on Friday night looking to record back-to-back wins for only the third time this season.

"We find ourselves in a position where I'm sure that if I go and ask strongly enough, the chairman will support his new manager. Yet really we need to find an equilibrium of salaries at our football club.

"We have a very high wage bill for this league and that needs addressing. We can't just keep piling more players on top. There will have to be some exits, and hopefully some additions that will improve the balance of the squad."

As well as accepting he will have to lose senior players next month, Mowbray has also opted not to recall all of the loan players currently plying their trade away from the Riverside.

When he was appointed to succeed Gordon Strachan, the former Boro skipper hinted he would be offering an olive branch to all the players temporarily discarded by his predecessor.

Andrew Taylor and Jonathan Grounds are due to return from Watford and Hibernian respectively next month, while Didier Digard is on a season-long loan to French side Nice.

Digard will not be returning to Teesside, and with Joe Bennett having performed at left-back in the last seven matches, one or both of Taylor and Grounds will be offered a new loan deal. With financial considerations to consider, Taylor could be offered an extended stay at Vicarage Road despite his eye-catching displays in the first half of the season.

"I've spoken to all the loan players, and part of the decision will undoubtedly be financial," said Mowbray. "On the first day I came into the club, I said we should try to bring all the loan players back. Now, a few weeks in, there's a few decisions I've already made in my mind.

"Not everybody will be coming back in January, and it comes back to not wanting to put even more pressure on our existing wage bill.

"I've been watching DVDs of all the loan players. I've seen what Andrew Taylor and Jonathan Grounds have been up to - I haven't seen as much of (Didier) Digard because he's only played a couple of games.

"There are financial implications there, but a couple of the lads are left-backs and I happen to think I have a left-back in the team at the minute who has been performing a good job. I've had discussions with the players, and they know my thoughts at the moment."