Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka has strengthened his midfield options with the loan signing of Bruno Zuculini from Manchester City.
Zuculini, an Argentina Under-20 international, has put pen to paper on a month-long deal with the Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls.
With Adam Forshaw out injured and Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton both just one yellow card away from suspension, Karanka has moved to add cover in the middle of the park.
Zuculini began his career in his homeland with Racing Club before joining City in the summer of 2014.
Middlesbrough's mission to go one better and achieve promotion from the Championship this term started with a 0-0 stalemate at newly-promoted Preston.
Boro were in competitive action for the first time since a 2-0 loss to Norwich in the play-off final and there was little evidence on this showing that Aitor Karanka's men, now shorn of striker Patrick Bamford, are better equipped to reach the top table this time around.
Aside from a Grant Leadbitter effort which flew narrowly wide and Albert Adomah almost stealing in twice in the second period, they failed to carry much attacking threat in the first game since Karanka signed a new four-year deal this week.
Chelsea defender Tomas Kalas is targetting automatic promotion to the Premier League after securing a season-long loan move to Middlesbrough.
The 22-year-old Czech Republic international, who spent the second half of last season at the Riverside Stadium, was given special permission by the Blues to join the Teessiders on their pre-season training trip to Marbella, where he put pen to paper on Friday morning.
Former England defender Jonathan Woodgate has shelved his retirement plans to sign a new 12-month contract at Middlesbrough.
Woodgate had looked set to end his playing days but Boro boss Aitor Karanka has convinced him to extend his career after the club lost new signing Alex Baptiste to a broken leg.
Woody will be important in the changing room.
I really appreciated his reaction after hearing of Alex Baptiste’s injury last week, and he is ready to come back.
He knows his role will be a bit different. He wants to come here to help us get promotion.
I said last season and I’ll say it again, he can be very important because he is a good person and a good lad.
He was thinking about retiring 10 months ago and now he wants to help us. We are close to being a family here, and we’re pleased to say ‘welcome back Woody.’
Middlesbrough defender Alex Baptiste suffered a broken leg on his debut for the club in a friendly against York.
Baptiste who recently moved to the Riverside was hurt in a challenge with a York trialist, which left him needing lengthy treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off.
Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka said: “This is the kind of day where I don’t want to speak about football. We are all very disappointed, and after Alex was injured, I left the game.
“Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to understand how unfair football is. One week ago, I was together with Alex in my office. Now, he is in the hospital. If the feeling from Wembley is a motivation, then we have another motivation now to dedicate it to him.
“I don’t know exactly what has happened, but it is going to be a serious injury and he will be out for a long time. I think it is a complete break, although we will have to wait and see.”
Middlesbrough are confident of bringing goalkeeper Shay Given to the Riverside from Aston Villa. The Irishman looks set be released from his contract at Villa Park, allowing the Championship side to sign him for nothing.
Given is no stranger to the club, having spent three months on loan at Middlesbrough during the 2013-14 season.
Middlesbrough defender George Friend says the whole of Teesside will have played its part if his club secure promotion to the Barclays Premier League with victory over Norwich in Monday's Wembley play-off final.
Friend has made a point of immersing himself in local life since arriving from Doncaster two years ago and insists the support across the town has been a crucial factor in the club's re-emergence under Aitor Karanka.
"When I joined everything indicated that this is a Premier League club and, having lived on Teesside, I know it would mean so much to everybody.
"It is a fantastic place to live, there are great people around here and it would mean everyone getting promoted - not just those people involved with the club."
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Aitor Karanka has set a 12-point target to clinch promotion as the boss threw down the gauntlet to Middlesbrough.
Boro host Wolves on Tuesday aiming to keep pace with Bournemouth and Norwich in the automatic promotion spots.
Middlesbrough are fourth in the Sky Bet Championship but could go top with a win if the Cherries and Canaries lose against Reading and Leeds respectively.
They are two points behind Bournemouth and Karanka wants them to win their final four matches to seal a return to the Barclays Premier League.
"We have to win our games," Karanka told the Middlesbrough Gazette.
"I think by winning four games we will get promotion, but it is very difficult.
"We have to forget the other teams and just concentrate on our games. We will prepare to win each game but you never know.
"At this stage of the season every single point is important."
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