Tony Pulis Wants This Scottish Defender Into His Fold: Right Man To Replace Fabio At Middlesbrough?

When Tony Pulis took charge of Middlesbrough on the 26th of December, one of the first problems he identified was that the Boro squad was too big. And after his first game in charge which ended in defeat to Aston Villa, he stated that some players needed to be let go in order to make the squad smaller.

The process of letting players go in January has already started to take place at Middlesbrough. Connor Roberts has returned to Swansea after his loan deal was cut short. This was not too surprising though as he was a Garry Monk signing and had barely even featured under him.

There are also several Middlesbrough player rumoured to be not wanted by Pulis. One of which is Ashley Fletcher. Fletcher has hardly featured since Pulis arrived. He has also received interest from Barnsley; a club where he spent a spell on loan.

Both Adam Clayton and Adam Forshaw are also wanted by several clubs after seeing little to no game time under Boro’s new boss.

While a lot of these transfers are somewhat expected given that they have not played enough and Pulis is looking to trim the squad, one transfer which is likely to upset many Boro fans is the departure of left-back Fabio. Fabio has been a regular in the Middlesbrough side this season and has been one of their better players.

Unfortunately, he has asked to leave Middlesbrough and looks to be on his was this window. So, while Pulis does not really want to bring in players this window as he is looking to trim the squad, it does look like he will have to bring in a full-back.

This is because with both Connor Roberts loan being terminated and Fabio asking to leave, Boro are quite bare in the full-back department. In fact, they only have two out and out full-backs in Cyrus Christie and George Friend. Granted, Ryan Shotton has been playing right back for the past few games. But even so, three full-backs for two positions in a hectic league such as the Championship is not enough. Especially when one of them is also centre-back cover.

Tony Pulis has clearly recognized this as despite not wanting to bring players in, Middlesbrough look to be interested in Aston Villa’s Alan Hutton.

Hutton is a 33-year-old full-back. He started out his career at Rangers before he moved to Spurs. He then spent time on loan at Sunderland before signing for Aston Villa in 2011. Hutton has not always been a regular in the Villa side. He has been loaned out three times since signing for Villa to Bolton, Nottingham Forest and RCD Mallorca.

However, despite being loaned out three times, Hutton has become a regular in the Villa side over the past three seasons. He played 28 league games in Villa’s relegation season. He then played 34 league games last season. And so far this season, Hutton has played 18 Championship games as Villa look to push for promotion.

While some Boro fans may turn there nose up at the prospect of signing Hutton, they should remember he is unlikely to be a regular starter for Boro and is instead probably only going to be cover for Ryan Shotton and George Friend who look to be Pulis’s main full-backs.

This is a position Hutton will do well in if he signs for Middlesbrough. He has a plethora of experience both at Championship and Premier League level. He has played 68 Championship games and 151 Premier League games in his career. Which shows he is a well-experienced defender who Boro could use when attempting to mount a new promotion charge.

Also, despite typically being a right back, Hutton can also play as a left back. This is something he is proving this season for Villa. Because he has played 19 games in all competitions this season. 12 of those have been at right back. But seven of them have also been at left back. Including in Pulis’s first game in charge of Boro when Villa won 1-0. This shows that Hutton is the right man for Boro as they could do with cover for both their full-backs and Hutton can certainly provide that this season.

He is also out of contract with Villa this summer. So, if Middlesbrough do go for him, he is likely to be very cheap. Overall, Hutton is a well-experienced defender who can come to Middlesbrough and provide cover for both full-backs and do so for what will probably be a very small fee.

Middlesbrough FC correspondent for The 4th Official.