GORDON Strachan is on the hunt for a new midfielder before Thursdays loan transfer deadline but he will only sign someone who can go straight into the first team.
Strachan, who hopes Stephen McManus will be fit enough to start against Preston tonight after an illness, has been looking to bring in a new body for several weeks but the market is not awash with talent.
The 1-1 draw with Reading on Saturday has pushed Middlesbrough even further away from the play-off places, and Strachan knows their chances of finishing in the top six are fading fast.
That has encouraged him to make one final throw of the dice in the transfer market, although he is not overly optimistic it will lead to anything.
He said: A loan signing might help the players because, in the middle of the park, the same three or four are doing all the work every week.
It would not be so bad, but the pitches are so heavy this year because of the weather. That is taking its toll on a lot of midfield players.
We have been short of bodies for a long time now, but we have to deal with it.
We have been trying to get someone in, but at this stage it is just not been possible.
We do not want to bring someone in just for the sake of filling spaces, but midfield is an area where we have basically had three players for the last three games. As a result, those guys have had to work hard.
Despite Boros rapidly fading promotion hopes, Strachan has not given up on a late charge as he claimed it was a lack concentration, not ability, that was hampering the Teessiders.
He added: It is frustrating because we have been in the lead in each of the last three games. It is hard to get a lead in a football match, but our decision-making and concentration have cost us.
We have let ourselves down with very small things. It is nothing to do with ability, it is more about concentration. Everybody should have that. There are things we could have done.
It is getting harder. We have made it harder for ourselves.
We have had it in our grasp to climb the table, but we have made it harder to reach the play-offs. We have nobody to blame but ourselves as a group.
Strachan also tried to explain the thinking behind his call to drop goalkeeper Danny Coyne for the 1-1 draw with Reading, with Brad Jones (pictured above) back in the starting line-up.
Coyne has arguably been one of Middlesbroughs better players this season, but Strachan felt the time was right to shift things in defence.
He said: Danny had done nothing wrong. It is a pity because Danny had been playing well, but sometimes a manager just feels he has to change something to try to get a win.
I did the same when I was Coventry manager with Steve Ogrizovic.
I stuck Chris Kirkland in, even though Steve had been one of the better players.
You do things every now and then because you think it might just be the change you need to get a win.