Middlesbrough join fellow Championship clubs in race for Hearts stalwart

Hearts' John Souttar celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game with team-mate Beni Baningime

Middlesbrough are the latest club that have expressed an interest in signing Hearts defender John Souttar, per a report.

Stoke and Blackburn are the two other Championship clubs that have been linked with a move for the 25-year-old. Souttar has been at Tynecastle since 2016, but his time there has been plagued by injuries. The centre-back only featured 15 times for the Jam Tarts in the last two seasons.

However, he’s now recovered from an Achilles tendon injury, his most recent setback. Playing 11 times in the Scottish Premiership for his side this campaign, he’s scored three goals.

According to Edinburgh News, Boro are looking to swoop in for the Souttar. With both Stoke and Blackburn also reportedly keen on the former Dundee Utd man, it could be a busy January for Hearts.

Chris Wilder has stated he wants to add to his squad during the upcoming transfer window. Boro have endured a depleted team in recent months, especially in their defensive areas. A move for Souttar would make complete sense in adding strength in depth to their backline.

After being a mainstay in the Hearts defence this season, he’s been rewarded for his performances. Scotland manager Steve Clarke has called Souttar up for their World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Denmark.

Due to his problems with injuries, the Hearts defender has had a three-year absence from his national side and has only collected three caps for his country.

Souttar’s brother Harry has attracted huge interest from the clubs in the Premier League and the Championship. Since taking his chance at Stoke, he’s been a mainstay in Michael O’Neill’s side. 

Out of contract in the summer, Hearts want to tie their man down to a new deal. They’re reluctant to sell the defender for a cut-price deal in January but could be resigned to cash in instead of losing him for nothing next summer.

Hero or villain? What are Steven Gerrard’s chances of being a success at Aston Villa

Chris Wilder confirms pathway for youngsters

Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder has ensured academy players will have a route to the first-team.

Since taking over from Neil Warnock, Wilder has been assessing the options he has throughout the academy ranks.

Josh Coburn has been a revelation for Boro since bursting onto the scene. He’s notched three goals in six Championship games. Scoring in back-to-back matches against West brom and Middlesbrough.

The 18-year-old has been at Boro since joining from Sunderland at Under-16 level.

“I know young Josh has been playing recently, and Isaiah [Jones] and a couple of the other guys have had opportunities too,” said Wilder to Teesside Live.

He continued: “When I spoke to the young men at the Under-23s game on Sunday, I told them there is definitely a pathway for them to get in, but only if their attitude is right and they’re good enough.

“Hopefully, there will be some gems we can pick out of there.”

READ MORE: Nottingham Forest in limbo over star’s future ahead of January