Wales' George Williams in action with Northern Ireland's Oliver Norwood and Paddy McNair
Middlesbrough are ready to make a move for Paddy McNair as they look to solve a mini crisis at centre-half ahead of the new season, HITC Sport understands.
Boro have England Under-21 star Ben Gibson fit, but at the moment they are looking at journeyman Alex Baptiste or youth international Dael Fry for the opening game with Stoke - because first choice Daniel Ayala is set to miss the start of the season with an ankle injury.
Manchester United's Paddy McNair
New signing Bernado Espinosa arrived recovering from a knee injury and is still a few weeks away from fitness and Boro had been scuppered in their move for Borussia Dortmund's Neven Subotic as he failed a medical.
Boro are waiting to hear from managerless Hull City about a bid for Harry Maguire but with that deal stalled, Aitor Karanka is turning to his close friend Jose Mourinho to help him out and that is set to see a move for McNair.
The Northern Ireland international is wanted by a host of Premier League clubs and also Scottish giants Celtic, but Boro could push their way to the front of the queue.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka
Karanka confirmed over the weekend that he wanted additional defensive cover and after their win over Aston Villa, he stated: "We need more (signings) because we don't have central defenders. With the injuries we have we need to improve.
"I don't want to put all the pressure on Dael Fry for example, as he's been brilliant and he has a bright future, he's improving every single day but he needs to keep going forward and do the right steps.
"For that reason, we need to bring in more in that area. But we have the nucleus of the team done."