The Teessiders have gone a good run since early March, losing just one of 10 matches to go 14 points clear of the drop zone with two matches remaining this season.
Despite being set for a finish no higher than 12th this campaign, the Australian striker who has scored 12 goals in the league, feels that ‘Boro will be able to match it with the best next term and push for a Premier League berth in 2012.
“We’ve got a fantastic core to this team now,” McDonald told the Evening Gazette. “We have a great desire, we always want to win. We can score goals.
“I think that core is good enough to go on to challenge for the top next season.
“I know we have had our problems with injuries this year but when we get anywhere near our strongest team out on the pitch then we can match anyone. We’ve shown that.”
McDonald added: “If we can keep the core of the team together and get a bit of consistency and be a bit more solid, that is the key.
“We know what we need and we are getting there. We need to try not to concede too many. If we can do that then there’s no reason we can’t be right up there next season.
“We have shown we have the quality to go and do damage to teams. We can score.
“That was what we were lacking early in the season. We weren’t getting goals when we were on top in games.
“We are doing that now. We just need to tweak it at the other end now and we’ll be good for a challenge.”