What a season it’s been so far for Aitor Karanka and Middlesbrough.
Currently sitting pretty at the top of the Championship table, they comprehensively beat their main challengers at this stage, Brighton, 3-0 on Saturday, and so far seem to be most peoples favourites for the Championship title.
Having just disposed of their nearest rivals crushingly on their own patch, at this stage it appears more than likely that their destiny is the Premier League, and that the force is with them.
However, to be sure of securing their place in the top flight next season they could do worse than make some prudent signings in January – here are FIVE players that could help ensure Aitor Karanka isn’t managing a Championship side for much longer…
A player that will be on a lot of clubs radars next month, Austin showed his class recently by scoring two against (at that point) league leaders Brighton, and has been one of the most proven and prolific Championship goalscorers in the last few seasons.
Austin also scored 18 goals in the Premier League with QPR last season so there would be no doubts about his ability at a higher level, if Boro manage to get there.
Every aspect of his game is worthy of the top tier, and maybe even international level.
Before this season Blackman was an erratic winger-cum-forward who rarely produced when it matters – this season he’s been on fire, netting 12 goals in all competitions so far for Reading and single-handedly torturing most Championship defences he’s come up against.
Blackman would be a good fit as an option on the right of the forward three that Boro have in behind their main striker. Sometimes in the first half of the season it’s seemed like they’ve lacked a little bit of pace on occasions, and Blackman would certainly rectify that.
While this would certainly be something of a coup, prising a key player from one of their potential title rivals, it would show real ambition and hunger to get the job done and secure promotion as soon as possible.
Ince’s Premier League career has not really taken off so far, with just a few appearances for Hull last season, and he will no doubt be itching to show his true potential in the top flight.
A high-quality winger who can also play behind the forwards, Ince has what it takes to play at a higher level, and Boro might just be able to make that happen.
How this man is not playing in the Premier League, I do not know. A midfielder who can do pretty much everything that needs doing in the engine room to a much higher standard than the Championship, Huddlestone looked entirely comfortable in the Premier League with Spurs.
He then joined Hull, was a stand out player last year, and has continued that good form this year by making Hull tick.
Huddlestone would be a good midfield signing as cover and competition for Adam Clayton and Grant Leadbitter.
Federici would be an advance signing for the Premier League, for if and when they get there.
The former Reading keeper has been mostly consigned to the bench this year, and would no doubt be interested in the opportunity to displace Dimitrios Konstantopoulos as the resident goalie at Boro.
A good keeper who has been solid at the highest level before, Federici would offer an excellent alternative at whatever level Boro find themselves at next season.