Middlesbrough have made their first summer signing in former Sunderland midfielder Grant Leadbitter.
The 26-year-old joins Tony Mowbray's side on a free transfer after his contract with Ipswich Town expired at the end of last season. He's now signed a three-year deal at the Riverside.
Chester-le-Street born Leadbitter began his career with the Black Cats and made 123 appearances for the club before moving to Ipswich in September 2009.
Middlesbrough kept alive their playoff hopes last night with a 2-1 win over fellow promotion chasers Southampton.
It was an uphill task for Tony Mowbray's side with Saints taking the lead after 46 seconds. Rickie Lambert was released on the right, and his cross found Billy Sharp at the far post.
However Boro fought their way back into the match, and drew level on the stroke of half-time through Nicky Bailey's deflected shot from the edge of the box.
Then with just 13 minutes left, Merouane Zemmama's superb free-kick put the home side 2-1 ahead.
The result means second-placed Southampton will have to wait until next weekend's home clash with Coventry to clinch automatic promotion. Middlesbrough on the other hand will be hoping they can beat Watford away, and that Cardiff lose to Crystal Palace, in the race for sixth place.
Middlesbrough 1-1 Southampton
Bailey 45' Sharp 1'
Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray says his side's home form may have ruined their chances of making this season's Championship playoffs.
Boro have been among the top six for most of the campaign, although they've managed to score just 20 goals at the Riverside.
The inability to find the net was a problem during their last game against Doncaster on Tuesday, which ended 0-0. The result means Middlesbrough are now four points adrift of Blackpool and Cardiff, who occupy fifth and sixth.
If either side record more than a point this weekend, it would leave Boro's promotion hopes hanging by a thread.
Speaking ahead of his team's home match with second placed Southampton tomorrow, Mowbray said: "The disappointment of dropping two points at home on Tuesday night was a huge blow to us.
"It's been a struggle for most the season at home to open teams up. We haven't scored enough goals this season.
"But let's wait and see. You never know in football."
Middlesbrough Manager Tony Mowbray discusses what he thinks is the formula needed to achieve promotion to the Premier League.
Middlesbrough travel to the south coast this weekend to face Brighton & Hove Albion.Read the full story ›
Middlesbrough's promotion bid has been disrupted by a major injury scare.
There are fears that Boro Captain, Matthew Bates, has suffered a serious knee injury for the fifth time in his career.
Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray says his team need to improve their home form ahead of tomorrow's match against Bristol City.
Boro have won just seven of their 19 games at the Riverside this season.
Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray says his side could have been challenging for automatic promotion has their home form been betterRead the full story ›
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray is hoping his side can bounce back from last weekend's home defeat away at Birmingham tomorrow.
Boro have the second-best away record in the championship this season behind West Ham - taking 30 points from 16 games.
However it's their home form that is causing concern among some fans. Middlesbrough have drawn eight of their 19 matches at the Riverside - the latest ended in a 2-0 loss to Leeds United last Sunday.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow's trip to St Andrews, Mowbray said: "Give credit to Leeds. They played a very high energy game and got the result.
"But we've been pretty good on our travels this year, so we'll be looking for a few more wins on the road over the next coming months."
He added: "We have to be ready for Birmingham this weekend, and then we've got to travel to West Ham on Tuesday night. They're tough games of course. Both of those sides are at the top end of the table and have a lot to play for."
Middlesbrough will be without Barry Robson - who is suspended - and Faris Haroun remains a doubt. Kevin Thomson will be assessed before kick-off after being knocked unconscious against Leeds.