Boro chief maintains ambition

Lamb insists that club want promotion

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Middlesbrough chief executive Keith Lamb insists that the club are still determined to secure promotion back to the Premier League.

Boro suffered relegation last season and as a result have sold Stewart Downing, Robert Huth and Tuncay Sanli, which netted the club in excess of £20mllion.

A number of Boro fans have questioned the club's ambition, but Lamb has moved to reassure the club's supporters that they are still very much looking to bounce back to the top-flight.

"Let me leave anyone who is in any doubt about this that we remain steadfastly ambitious," he told the club's official website.

"Our ambition remains to get back in the Premier League as soon as possible, hopefully this season. Everyone at the club - me, Steve Gibson, Gareth Southgate, the staff and players - has that same ambition and aim.

"That's what the supporters want and it's what we want too - and we believe we can do that this season.

"We understand the frustration the supporters feel but we would assure them that the changes that have been made were for the good of the club.

"The support we've received at the Riverside and on our travels so far this season has been fantastic. I'm convinced that our fans can be a major strength for us this season.

"We've made a good start, we have a good squad of committed, focused players and we've got loyal and vocal fans behind us.

"With all that in place, now is the time for us to knuckle down and make sure we get back to the Premier League at the first attempt."

The club say they had little choice but to restructure their finances after relegation, although Lamb insists only players who wanted to leave the club were sold.

"The financial consequence of losing our place in the Premier League is something in excess of £20m a season, mainly through the loss of TV revenue and other commercial income.

"With that in mind, the club's finances have had to be restructured, a process we've carried out over the summer months.

"It's been a painful but necessary process and, as a result of it, the club remains in a healthy state.

"We've had to sell players as part of that restructuring but no player has left the club who wanted to stay. In fact, we rejected a number of unwelcome approaches for our players.

"We only need and want players who are committed to the cause, who want to play for Middlesbrough and are determined to help us win promotion this season. That's what we now have in the squad of players who remain.

"We've suffered plenty of pain as a consequence of relegation but the club now has a firm, sound financial base to move forward. We now feel we're better placed to launch a serious challenge for promotion."

Missed targets

Lamb admitted the club were disappointed not to have brought anyone in before the transfer deadline closed on Tuesday, after they failed to land top target Rob Hulse.

"It was frustrating that we weren't able to deliver on some of the manager's targets, mainly due to the reluctance of other clubs to release their prize assets," he continued.

"We were very close to doing a number of permanent deals but we simply ran out of time before the transfer window closed.

"It would be wrong of me to name names because those players remain with other clubs, but we made significant attempts to clinch deals that just didn't come off.

"The transfer window may be closed now, but our recruitment process will continue. The manager is rightly keen to strengthen the squad further and he and his scouting team are continuing their search to bring in new additions.

"The one advantage we do have in the Championship is that we are able to utilise the loan system after the transfer window has closed.

"We'll certainly be looking to do that because we are keen to add depth to the squad in some key areas, particularly in terms of a striker and defender.

"With the right additions, we believe this squad is definitely capable of winning promotion."

Bates op

Meanwhile, the club have confirmed that long-term injury victim Matthew Bates has undergone surgery on his knee-ligament injury which he suffered in pre-season.

"Matthew's had his operation and without going into too much medical detail, we've all been very encouraged by what he has heard from the surgeons," said coach Steve Agnew.

"Hence the operation. He's much more upbeat than he was when he first suffered the injury.

"Initially, everyone was massively disappointed, but I think Matthew's pretty positive now. I'm sure he'll be back at the training ground in the next week or so."