Middlesbrough boss eyes former Sunderland and Stoke City midfielder Whitehead

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MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Mowbray is hopeful of making his first summer signing – with former Sunderland midfielder Dean Whitehead a definite possibility.

The 31-year-old is a free agent following the expiry of his Stoke City contract, and Mowbray admitted: “Dean is a player with some options and he has some decisions to make.

“He’s been in the Premier League for six or seven years and will have an earning power that reflect that.

“He isn’t a player who the fans will necessarily get excited about but he can put out fires and he knows his job. He’s a player we potentially might have an interest in, but he might have some decisions to make.”

Boro are also interested in Hungary midfielder Jozsef Varga and Burton Albion’s former Spurs forward Jaques Maghoma.

But Mowbray denied rumours that he is tracking Brighton’s David Lopez, Bolton defender Tim Ream and former Manchester United youngster Frederic Veseli.

Mowbray, whose squad return to training on Monday, added: “We’re all working away very hard behind the scenes. The chief executive and the chairman have been very active in trying to bring things together.

“Many leagues in Scandinavia and elsewhere are still underway and the coaching and scouting team have all been out trying to identify the right players and build relationships.

“Hopefully over the next fortnight all the work we’ve been doing will start coming into place.

“I’ve spoken to a few out of contract players and had some here looking around Rockliffe with their agents. Then they go away on holiday but it’s coming to the point where decisions have to be made.

“It’s not easy getting your work done early, unless you’re willing to pay top dollar. While you’d like your whole squad together for the start of pre-season, that’s not going to happen.”