Boro thrashing out O'Neil deal

Strachan hopeful over appearance fee payment

O'Neil: Appearance fee due

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Gordon Strachan is hopeful that Middlesbrough can settle midfielder Gary O'Neil's appearance clause with Portsmouth to allow him to continue playing for the club.

The 26-year-old, who moved to the Riverside Stadium in 2007, has made 99 appearances for the club, meaning his 100th will result in cash-strapped Pompey being owed £1million under the terms of the original agreement.

O'Neil has been a key member of Strachan's side this season, making 35 league appearances overall as Boro try to squeeze into a play-off place for the opportunity to return to the Premier League.

Strachan is keen to keep O'Neil in his plans, but agreed that the finer details will need to be discussed before the agreement can be settled before his team face a tough test when they travel to promoted West Brom on Saturday.

"We are working on it to see if something can be done and we can get Gary on the field," said Strachan.

"He is desperate to get playing.

"I know we have won a couple of games while he has not been playing, but I can assure you we are a better side when he is in the team."