NEIL WARNOCK has boosted his Middlesbrough promotion charge with a swoop for Fulham goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
The 28-year-old passed a medical this week and will now spend the season on-loan at The Riverside after the shock arrival of Alphonse Areola from Paris Saint-Germain at Craven Cottage.
And his signing solves a major dilemma for the Boro boss, who wanted more experience between the sticks.
Bettinelli, who was called up to the England squad two years ago, has played over 100 games for Fulham since coming through their academy.
But after failing out of favour under Scott Parker last season he is heading north for regular action in the Championship following the Cottagers promotion to the Premier League.
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He is expected to go straight into the starting XI for Boro’s league opener at Watford on Friday.
A delighted Warnock said: “I’m really pleased. I’ve been tracking Marcus since he first got into the team at Fulham a good few years ago and when the opportunity arose to bring him here, I was quick to the call.
“He’s a good lad, he’ll fit in well and speaking to him, I’ve been really impressed by his attitude and his desire to play for us.”
That could spell the end of 22-year-old Aynsley Pears’ Boro career.
Despite being No1 for the majority of last term, the club are prepared to listen to offers for him after he entered the final year of his contract.
Dejan Stojanovic, 27, was preferred to Pears for the Carabao Cup victory over Shrewsbury last Friday, but Warnock is still not convinced by the Austrian.
He only joined Boro in January but he now looks set to play back-up to Bettinelli.
Meanwhile, former Real Madrid goalkeeper Tomas Meijas is free to leave the Teessiders if he can find a club after he was not allocated a squad number by Warnock.
Warnock is also looking to bring in two strikers to bolster his squad, with ex-Arsenal man Yaya Sanogo heavily linked.
Bettinelli will be the second new arrival this summer following the free transfer signing of ex-QPR captain Grant Hall in defence.
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