Can Middlesbrough claim a play-off finish in the Championship next season?

Middlesbrough narrowly missed out on the Championship play-offs last season, needing a win on the final day and for sides above them to drop points, both of which did not happen.

Boro come into the upcoming campaign in a stronger position in a lot of aspects, yet there are areas that still need addressing before their curtain-raiser against West Brom on July 30th.

Having taken over in November last year, Chris Wilder got to work straight away in making this Middlesbrough side his own. He immediately adopted his favoured 3-5-2 formation and tried to get the players playing the way he wants his sides to play, whilst also recruiting players in the January window to try to propel them up the table.

The Teessiders’ consistency was far better under Wilder than it was under previous manager Neil Warnock, with the new boss taking them from 15th to an eventual 7th place finish. Yet there are still some creases to iron out in order to be competing at the very top of the table.

Boro’s recruitment has been a success so far this summer with Darragh Lenihan and Liam Roberts arriving on free transfers, and Wolves’ Ryan Giles and Manchester City’s Zack Steffen signing on loan. All four players are coups for Wilder’s side and will all compete for places in the first-team fold. Each of them brings something different to what is already at their disposal.

What do Middlesbrough need to break into the top-six?

However, they need to address their lack of strikers as quickly as possible. Several names have been linked throughout the window yet no new forwards have signed on the dotted line. Three of their five strikers last season have since returned to their parent clubs with Andraz Sporar, Aaron Connolly and Folarin Balogun re-joining Sporting Lisbon, Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal respectively.

Boro currently only have Josh Coburn and Duncan Watmore as first-team forwards. They do have Uche Ikpeazu and Chuba Akpom on their books, yet both players are expected to depart, and weren’t given squad numbers in the official announcement earlier today, further hinting towards their imminent exits.

If Middlesbrough are going to make that albeit small step up and make the top-six next year, two new strikers should help them significantly in achieving that goal. Elsewhere they have a number of options in every position and so won’t need to strengthen other than at the top end of the pitch.

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