According to the Daily Mail, Middlesbrough are set to beat Championship rivals Derby County to the signing of Leicester City defender Filip Benkovic on loan.

The Croatian international joined Leicester for a reported £13 million fee.

But Benkovic has struggled for regular playing time with the Foxes. He spent the best part of last season on loan at Scottish Premiership champions Celtic.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images).

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers told reporters over the weekend how Benkovic needs playing time. It is said the Foxes will loan him out once they have signed another defender.

Derby have been linked with the young central defender for most of January.

The Rams are short on options at the back. The sacking of Richard Keogh has left a void currently filled by Curtis Davies, 34, and Brighton loanee Matt Clarke.

Benkovic is comfortable on the ball and strong in the tackle. He would be ideal in a Derby side which has struggled to move the ball out from the back this season.

Middlesbrough, however, have seemingly beaten their league rivals to his signature.

Boro are also in the market for a new central defender. Sky Sports linked with both Burnley defender Ben Gibson and Bournemouth youngster Jack Simpson in recent days.

But it seems Jonathan Woodgate’s men will bring Benkovic to the Riverside with Middlesbrough keen to add numbers to fend off the small threat of relegation.

(Photo credit should read ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images).

Boro are currently 17th in the Championship table, 11 points clear of the bottom three.

Also see: Top-flight boss hints at potential deal for reported Derby and Middlesbrough target

Also see: Derby and Fulham reportedly in talks to sign top-flight player; deal expected

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