The 28-year-old midfielder has signed a contract extension after establishing himself as a key figure in head coach Aitor Karanka’s team since his £1.5m arrival from Huddersfield in August, 2014.
Promoted Boro find themselves just a point clear of the top-flight relegation zone with 12 games remaining, but Clayton is confident he and his team-mates can secure an extended stay after eight years in exile.
He said: “If you’d said to me when I signed: ‘With 12 games to go, you’re not in the bottom three, you’ve not been in the bottom three all season, no-one has come and beaten you up on the pitch or taken the game away from you, you’ve been in every game’, I’d say that would have been an upward spiral.
“It’s just the last couple of games we’ve been disappointed with and not managed to turn them into points.
“We only need a couple of wins and the positivity will be back and we’ll be flying again.”
Boro started life back in the Premier League in encouraging fashion, but their recent run –they are yet to win a league game in 2017 and have taken just four points from their last nine outings – has seen them slide inexorably towards the danger zone.
They head for Stoke on Saturday and face potentially key trips to improving Swansea and Hull next month.
But, with an FA Cup quarter-final ahead, he insists there is cause for optimism.
“Things aren’t that bad. We’re in the quarter-final so that’s again something to look forward to, one game away from Wembley, and we are still fighting to stay in this league, which we knew we were going to be doing at the start of it.
“Every team which comes up knows it’s very tough to have a good season where you finish in the top 10 or something like that. There are very, very, very small margins in this league and if we can turn one or two of our draws into wins, it will shoot us right up the table.
“There is no need for us to be down. We have got some good players, we have got a good manager and we have got a great chairman and a great support behind us,.
“We’ll keep going and we’ll try our best to stay in the league, because that’s where I want to be and that’s why I have committed the next couple of years to being at Middlesbrough.”
Cardiff City owner and Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan has revealed he would sell the Championship club if he was “offered the right price” but stressed that he is in no rush to do so.