McClaren's hands are tied
Frustrated Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren has been told to forget making any late swoops during the final few hours of the January transfer window.
McClaren will not even be able to bring a player to the Riverside Stadium on loan despite a crippling injury crisis which has left him without 10 first team players for tomorrow night's vital derby trip to Sunderland.
Boro have been active participants in the January window in recent years, but after chief executive Keith Lamb admitted last week that the spending could not continue unchecked, the manager has been told he will have to make do with what he has with a fight against relegation already well underway.
McClaren, who insisted he will do all he can to hang on to 33-year-old striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink amid speculation Fulham are closing in on his signature, was disappointed at the news, but philosophical in his response.
'No, I can't bring anybody in,' he said. 'No-one will be coming in. I have just been instructed today that we can't bring any players in, be it on loan until the end of the season or anything.
'That's disappointing, but we get on with it. It's frustrating because we have got 10 injuries and the squad is depleted, we have got FA Cup replays, we have got Europe coming up, we have got plenty to play for.
'We need to get out of the trouble we are in in the Premier League. I said we needed help, I said we needed more players to improve the squad while these injuries clear up and come back. But it's not possible for whatever reason.'
McClaren even took Slavia Prague defender Martin Latka and Celtic's Didier Agathe on last week's team-bonding trip to Spain, but was unable to push home his interest in the Czech Republic Under-21 international.
'Martin Latka was one,' he said. 'We had him on trial for a couple of days and he did ever so well. We wanted to sign him, but I'm unable to do that.'
Hasselbaink, one of Boro's biggest earners, was one of those understood to be expendable as the club sought to slash its wage bill, but McClaren now appears to be facing a fight to keep him.
'We have still got a day and a half to go,' he said. 'I don't want anybody to leave - I'll fight tooth and nail so nobody leaves this football club. That's the situation.
'It's pure speculation. To be fair, he's a little bit disappointed this morning, Jimmy, because he's just been beaten by the staff at head tennis. He might be upset, but I don't think that's a reason to leave us.
'We need Jimmy, we need him from now until the end of the season.'
In the meantime, McClaren will make the short trip up the A19 hoping for a first league victory in 10 attempts buoyed by his side's 1-1 FA Cup draw at Coventry - although somewhat taken aback by the negative response to it - which handed them a trip to either Preston or Crystal Palace in the last 16.
'It's an away tie, but it gives us another chance,' he said. 'We are delighted to still be in the cup - I'm sure a lot of managers would like to be in our position.
'I was a bit disappointed at all the reaction after the Coventry game. Yes, we ground out the result, yes, we didn't play particularly well, but it was a great result.
'It's a difficult place to go. Two or three weeks ago, we would have lost that game. We showed great character, great attitude, epitomised by Gareth Southgate, who shouldn't be playing.
'But he goes there week in, week out and plays through it and epitomises the spirit at the present moment.
'We have done half a job and we have got them back here. We are delighted with that and delighted with the draw.'