Chris Wilder says Middlesbrough are working hard to strengthen their squad this summer and has hinted that the club will sign some ‘big-name, marquee’ players this summer. The ambitious Boro boss is keen to strengthen his squad to challenge for promotion to the Premier League next season.
Wilder gave the transfer update as he sat down with the club website after enjoying a solid return to Rockliffe in the last week or so, with players returning for the start of pre-season, while Jonny Howson signed a new extended deal, Alan Fettis joined as the new goalkeeper coach and Liam Roberts was recruited on a free from Northampton Town to strengthen the goalkeeping options.
But with lofty goals set for the season ahead, the summer additions are far from completed yet, with Wilder setting his sights high and aiming to bring some good players in to the club this summer. There will be what he describes as ‘under the radar’ signings too though, which is the bracket he put his new goalkeeper into.
The Boro boss updated: “When we’re bringing players in there will be some big-name players in there that we hope and I believe we can attract to this football club. And that is the feeling that I am getting. After the season that we had last season, even if it ultimately ended in disappointment, players see us as a good place to come and play.
“We had the well-publicized good cup run and we had the league campaign from where we were to where we got to and how close we were. It makes it a really attractive club to come and join. And it has always been with the facilities that it has got and the history it has. Hopefully we can pull some good players to this football club.
“There will be some big names that will come and people will go, ‘wow, that’s a really good signing’, and there’s going to be some other signings that you might call under the radar who we feel will make the group stronger. Liam [Roberts] is definitely one of those.
“We’ve tracked him for a couple of seasons now and he had an incredible season last year for Northampton and we feel we’ve got a very good and relatively young goalkeeper. He wants to learn, he wants to grow his career and wants to be part of a group that is hopefully pushing at the top of the division.”
Boro are also understood to have reached an agreement to sign centre-back Darragh Lenihan as his Blackburn Rovers contract came to an end, with just formalities to sort before an official announcement, while they continue to work hard on securing other transfer targets too.
But balancing the books and the squad numbers will remain a key task this summer also, with Nathan Wood already sold to Swansea City and Joe Lumley and Zach Hemming departing on loan. Sol Bamba, Lee Peltier, Neil Taylor, Sammy Ameobi and Dejan Stojanovic have all left the club too. There will be more heading for the exit door as the summer progresses.
“It’s an ongoing process,” Wilder said of summer transfer work. “We all knew how difficult January would be. We didn’t quite get it as we would have liked to have got it, but I think we give ourselves a bit of leeway in terms of how difficult the market was.
“But now we’re moving into the first real transfer window and we’ve got Liam in, we’ve convinced Jonny to stay and then we’re working hard to get other players in to shape it how I want it to look. Off the back of that, there will be casualties and players that will leave, and they will leave for a reason.
“I’m not going to let players go that I feel can take us forward. They’re tough decisions and everyone will have opinions on them, but they are decisions that are always made for the benefit of the football club.”