Huddersfield Town midfielder Adam Clayton has been the subject of a failed opening bid from Middlesbrough as the Teessiders look to test the resolve of the Terriers and could come back with another offer.

Boro chief Aitor Karanka has ramped up his interest in Clayton but the Spaniard's move for last season's player of the year has been knocked back by Town.

Mark Robins and chairman Dean Hoyle will surely look to ward off any interest in their midfield talisman, but given he has just 12 months remaining on his contract, it remains to be seen whether or not the club will be backed into something of a corner.

It poses the club a true dilemma as they step up their pre-season preparations and an unwelcome one at that for Robins, with Town's first-team squad seeming settled after additions to the playing and coaching staff.

The loss of Clayton, scorer and creator of crucial goals and a dominant force in the middle of the pitch during 2013/2014, would leave a sizeable void in Town's midfield ranks but it could also wedge open a window of opportunity.

Primarily, it would invite the likes of Philip Billing and Sondre Tronstad to truly force their way into starting contention and it could also enable Town to bring in reinforcements throughout.

They already appear thin on on the ground in terms of midfield numbers after the departure of Keith Southern and should Clayton go then a high-profile replacement would need to be identified but the idea of Middlesbrough including Jacob Butterfield in any deal could appease fans.

The prospective exit of Clayton, should Town be unable to cling onto their prized asset, would presumably not be met favourably by supporters but suggestions the former Norwich City midfielder could arrive as part of any deal holds a level of appeal.

It could be a partnership that suits both parties, with Town's need for midfield acquisitions addressed and the Bradford-born 24-year-old able to return to more familiar territory.

Butterfield exploded onto the scene as a youngster at Barnsley and was even handed the captain's armband, such was the speed of his progression.

But his career stalled when he a torn suffered anterior cruciate ligament, which set him back months in his efforts to establish himself as one of the Championship's finest midfielders.

His Bosman move to Norwich City almost came soon for a youngster who was looking to make up for lost time too quickly and his revelation that he had opted for a Premier League move over a sideways switch spoke volumes.

What actually unfolded was a player skipping natural steps in his progression and ending up as nothing more than a fringe player at Carrow Road, with various Championship loan moves failing to bring the best out of him.

 

His respective spells at Bolton Wanderers and Crystal Palace yielded little in the way of a sustained run of first-team football and instead left him yearning for the status he was beginning to develop at Oakwell rather than fulfilling it.

His final campaign at Barnsley saw him score five times in 25 appearances and when he did find the net, the Tykes were unbeaten.

He is also a player with international pedigree, having represented England U21's on the one occasion during his time in South Yorkshire and there were signs during last season with Boro that he can finally begin to recapture the form he showed so early on in his fledgling career.

After all, at just 24, Butterfield still has time to grow and realise the potential that was cruelly hampered by injury before he could truly display his worth.

Should Butterfield's name enter the transfer discussions for Clayton, Town would at the very least be inheriting a player who has the creative instincts to offset the loss of the current playmaker.

Butterfield's best position is in a slightly more advanced midfield role, where he is able to dictate play and have a positive influence on proceedings. His passing game is one of the strongest facets of his skill set and his vision allows for him to operate slightly deeper if required.

 

What he perhaps fails to offer is Clayton's tenacity and relish for the midfield battle, a characteristic which complements the work he does in the final third so neatly.

The statistics certainly suggest as much, with Butterfield's duel and aerial duel success percentages of 43.6% and 25.9% paling in comparison to Clayton's own laudable totals of 53% and 60%.

Likewise, his 27 tackles to the 88 of the man he would hope to replace is a noticeable gulf, even if he registers a marginal improvement in tackling success (85% v 82%).

Butterfield impresses mainly through his use of the ball, a feature justified by his 14% of long balls to Clayton's 18%, a superior passing accuracy 81% to 79% and a greater success with crosses (25% v 18%).

Another enticing aspect is his squeaky-clean disciplinary record after failing to pick up a single yellow card last season. He also commits considerably less fouls than Clayton, a man whose combative style can occasionally get the better of him.

What should be factored into the comparison is Clayton's impact. More goals, more assists and more minutes on the field show how integral the 24-year-old was to the Town cause last year.

Whether or not Butterfield - clearly deemed a disposable asset if Boro are willing to offload him - can be considered as such is debatable.

Ultimately, the potential departure of Clayton leaves Town with problems. They will fight tooth and nail to keep him and should he go, a goal-getting replacement would be added to Robins' shopping list.

But given the current shortage of seasoned Championship individuals in Town's midfield, the opportunity to snap up a player who may yet realise his early promise is not to be sniffed at.

Which Huddersfield Town players would you keep and which would you sell - click here to have your say

Now see who you picked in your starting XI for 2014/2015 - click here to see who made the cut

Click here for more Huddersfield Town news          

Want to read, watch and hear more? You can download the FREE Examiner Apple App here , the FREE Examiner Android App here or you can view the paper as an e-edition on your Apple, Android or Kindle device by clicking here            

Want the latest Huddersfield Town news? Follow our Town news Twitter here