DOUGIE Freedman has moved to temper fans’ expectations with regards to Wanderers’ chances of signing Lukas Jutkiewicz on a permanent deal.
Middlesbrough are believed to have raised their asking price for the 24-year-old striker beyond what the Whites can afford.
It was previously reported that the Teessiders were willing to do business at around £1.5million – but without a significant sale, it now appears Freedman will have to look elsewhere as he bids to bolster a thin strike force this summer.
Freedman plucked the former Everton star from Boro’s bench, where he had scored just one league goal all season. But Jutkiewicz has proved to be a smash hit at the Reebok, scoring six goals in 16 appearances and becoming a favourite on the terraces.
And while he would be delighted to work with Jutkiewicz on a permanent basis, the Scot is urging fans to be realistic in their expectations for new signings.
“Of course we’d all like to see good players come to the football club, but I can’t say whether that’s going to be him [Jutkiewicz],” he said.
“I can say we won’t be signing ready-made stars for the money we used to spend. “I want to buy players with potential.
“Even if it’s not Jutkiewicz, hopefully the fans can see my recruitment record – players who haven’t been discovered yet, or who have gone through bad patches.
“I can still assure the fans that we’ll be getting fans of that type.
“I feel confident that I can get these players to the same levels.”
While Boro boss Aitor Karanka has said he wants to wait until the summer before speaking with Jutikiewicz about his next move, Wanderers have already kicked their own recruitment plans into gear.
Freedman has “two or three” signings lined up and has questioned whether Jutkiewicz’s success at the Reebok may have hampered his chances of leaving the Riverside for good.
“You can ask me a hundred times if we’d like to sign him – but the question should be do they want to sell?” he said.
“Middlesbrough will probably say ‘no’ now. I can’t go anywhere with that.
“I have got to go through a lot of questions before I can put my hand on my heart and say to the fans ‘yes, we’ll be doing this’.”
Freedman has had a good track record in the loan market since arriving at the club, but admits that it has come at a cost to the longer-term development of his squad.
“When you loan them up, it’s an agreement,” he said. “I’ve said before, I’m fed up of getting players fit, ready, scoring goals and then you shake their hand and they go back and there’s no asset there.
“It’s disappointing but at the time Lukas came in David Ngog had been sold and we used that money to get three or four players in, who certainly contributed more than David did in my time here.
“After all that frustration with Craig Dawson last season, the loans have really helped us this year – you’ve seen (Liam) Feeney and then (Kevin) McNaughton do well. “They get new contracts or other moves and we have to start all over again.
“That’s why I’m looking to get things done on a permanent deal now.”