Football

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Southgate calls for show of pride

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Gareth Southgate has demanded his Middlesbrough players show professional pride and put any personal agendas to one side for their do-or-die encounter with Aston Villa on Saturday.

Only a victory will keep the club's slender survival hopes alive, but Southgate said any players already planning their exit strategy owe it to Middlesbrough to not abandon ship.

Southgate said: "I don't want people here to be thinking they are getting the life-rafts ready. We have got to perform and continue to the end and give a performance on Saturday that shows the hunger and passion to stay in this league. Whatever personal agendas there may be have to be put to one side."

He added: "You just have to remind the players of their jobs and professional obligations.

"Everyone at this football club is our player until their contract runs out or we decide that we are prepared to accept an offer for them.

"Professional pride has to be foremost."

A number of players are expected to seek a move in the summer including Stewart Downing, Gary O'Neil and Tuncay, but Southgate said every player had to assume responsibility for the club's predicament.

"Every player in this squad has played a part this season and we are where we are because collectively we have not done enough," said Southgate.

"I don't think anyone can feel that we are too good to go down. Being good covers a lot of different qualities - it's not just technical ability but mental strength, physical toughness and character.

"If you don't survive in the division you have not been good enough. You may have technically good footballers but it's the whole package that makes you a success or a failure in sport."

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Topics:
Stewart Downing
Football
Gary O'Neil
Premier League
Gareth Southgate
Aston Villa
Middlesbrough

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