Michael Carrick confident that Middlesbrough will be 'stronger' by the end of the January transfer window

MIDDLESBROUGH were running on the equivalent of fumes in the second half of their New Year’s Day reverse to bogey side Coventry City.

It was an occasion when their lack of available players caught up with them en route to a 3-1 loss on an afternoon when they were without 12 first-teamers.

Boro have experienced all manner of selection issues this winter so far, but manager Michael Carrick, admirably, remains calm about the situation and is confident that things will change by the end of this month.

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The Teessiders are looking at several targets in the transfer market and that should also coincide with their treatment room hopefully starting to clear in the near future.

Middlesbrough head coach Michael Carrick. Picture: John Walton/PAMiddlesbrough head coach Michael Carrick. Picture: John Walton/PA
Middlesbrough head coach Michael Carrick. Picture: John Walton/PA

Carrick said: “In terms of recruitment and the January window, we’ll hopefully be getting more players back, so we’ll look stronger.

"It’s not really about a short-term fix. If anything, we could probably have done with the short-term fix six weeks ago, but the window obviously wasn’t open then.

"As I’ve been saying all along, the timing of the window is probably that it’ll be open when we start getting a few more back in January."

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Meanwhile, Carrick is set to be handed a triple boost ahead of their cup foray against Premier League duo Aston Villa and Chelsea - with Hayden Hackney, Matt Crooks and Emmanuel Latte Lath expected to return to training this week.

England under-21 star Hackney has been out since late November with a groin issue, while Crooks (hamstring) hasn’t been involved in the past two matches. Latte Lath has been sidelined with a hamstring issue for the last four games.

Carrick, whose side welcome Villa in a televised FA Cup third-round tie on Saturday tea-time and host Chelsea in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final next Tuesday, said: "We’re hoping for Hayden to train this week and Crooksy too. We’ll wait and see on that.

"Manu too, (back in) training this week."

Riley McGree and Sam Silvera are on Asia Cup business with Australia, with Seny Dieng part of Senegal’s Africa Cup of Nations squad. A host of other players are out including Lewis O'Brien, Paddy McNair, Darragh Lenihan, Tommy Smith and Marcus Forss.