TONY Mowbray believes Lukas Jutkiewicz is “the first part of a jigsaw” which will piece together Middlesbrough’s return to the Premier League.
The Boro boss insists the 22-year-old is the first “major signing” of his Riverside tenure.
Mowbray has brought in several loan players and free transfers during his 15 months at the helm, but considers Jutkiewicz’s capture a significant one in his goal of bringing top-flight football back to Teesside.
“Lukas is the first part of a jigsaw we need to put together,” he said. “He’s one of the first cogs in trying to restructure and rebuild.
“We’ve lost a lot of players but the ones who have come in have not been major signings, they’ve been ones who can help out and fill holes. Lukas is the first time we’ve spent any serious money.”
The 48-year-old added: “He’s just a good footballer and hopefully, as we move on, the team will be full of good footballers.
“That’s what you want, where you’ve got a team full of them and the phone never stops ringing for your players.
“That means the team is functioning well and the talent is there for everyone to see.
“It’s a case of starting that process and we’ve got to thank the chairman (Steve Gibson) for finding the money to push this deal through in difficult economic times.
“But hopefully, we’ll be sat here in the future talking about another good player and then another good player coming in.”
We want selection issues all over the pitch.”
Jutkiewicz arrived on a four-and-a-half-year deal on Monday and comes into a side currently perched on the fringe of the two automatic promotion places in the Championship.
He has netted nine times for Coventry City this season, having failed to secure an August move to Boro and Mowbray admits he has been a long-term target.
“It was a hard slog getting him here and I had to stress to the chairman that, while we’ve had relative success this season, we lacked a physical presence to go with the hard work and energy the team have provided this season,” he said.
“He has scored goals in a team which has struggled for goals.
“He brings qualities which our team is looking for. He brings a physicality, but is also a technical footballer.
“He can get hold of the ball and can bring others into play. But he has a bravery and a desire to get into the box and score goals.”