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23rd July 2017

This week saw Boro play their first friendlies in this country after their training camp in Portugal. A first chance for the fans to see not only the new kits but more importantly to get acquainted with new faces.

What is more apparent though is the realisation of just how many of last season's squad are no longer involved with the club. At the time of writing its likely that only Fabio will remain from the additions brought into the club before the closing of the transfer window in August 2016 and even he has been linked with a possible move away.

De Roon is more than likely to go, perhaps understandably, to protect his international place in the Holland squad. Sadly Chambers and Negredo will be missed; the young Arsenal defender was a superb addition to the squad and had relegation been avoided Boro supporters would have been screaming for the club to try and prize him away from The Gunners on a permanent basis.

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Likewise Negredo, with support and supply that he was often denied under the more cautious systems employed, had the undoubted ability to score many more goals.

Stuart Downing looks like he will have played his last game for his home town club and that's a great shame. He was on the verge of a return to the England squad when he chose to leave West Ham and drop down a division to help get Boro back into the top flight.

It was assumed that would play in the number ten role and supply the quality balls for the strikers to score from. He was never really given the opportunity to excel in that role. Others like Jordan Rhodes and James Husband never really got a chance under Karanka and Victor Fischer perhaps may go onto better things after moving away in recent weeks.

One major surprise is that Gaston Ramirez may be given a chance to redeem himself, though many fans will take a lot of winning over after he downed tools when he was needed most. An undoubted talent who shines infrequently but the new boss might think he can harness his skills for the good of the team. We remain to be convinced and whilst it is very unlikely we'll get anything like the 15million mooted In January, anything to boost the kitty would be welcome.

The departures of Barragan and Espinosa won't have upset too many supporters. The former started well but then fell away and his comedy throw-ins will go down in Teesside folklore. Espinosa again started quite well but then appeared to be targeted by opponents because of his lack of pace.

The future of Adama Traore is more intriguing. He promises so much with his lightning pace and intricate dribbling ability but the lack of end product coupled with his abandonment of defensive duties in games has left him a frustrating player. He could go onto something very special and again Monk just might be the man to get the best out of him.

It's the additions that are far more exciting and the business done so far has the Boro fans counting down the days until August 5th. Right back has been a problem position for the club for more years than we care to remember and Cyrus Christie has the opportunity to solve that. He's a defender who has pace and ability to surge down the right flank and create opportunities.

Howson needs no introduction to the vigours of the Championship. Goals have been relatively short for the club and most certainly from midfield but the former Leeds and Norwich man can soon change that.

Less is known of Martin Braithwaite and George Miller but the assumption that Gestede and Bamford would be the regular front two have been blown out of the water with these additional players joining the ranks, albeit they can both play in wider roles.

The major coup was undoubtedly Britt Assombalonga to the front line and this shows just how ambitious the club are to get promotion. Competition for places is going to be intense and it will need to be as Boro are not alone in making significant changes to their Championship squads.

With a goalkeeper at least to come in and even more ins and outs before the end of August there is every reason to enthuse that a promotion winning squad be in place in the next few weeks.

Roll on August 5th and Wolves away. On Teesside we just can't wait!

Once again Boro fans are indebted to Steve Gibson, without a shadow of doubt the best Chairman in football.

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