Boro keen to keep Wheater

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Middlesbrough are in no mood to sell defender David Wheater unless they are made an offer they cannot refuse.

Speculation on Friday suggested Aston Villa are preparing to table a bid of £6million and striker Marlon Harewood in an attempt to land the 22-year-old.

However, it is understood Boro are not looking to offload a player who indicated his intention to stay and fight for an immediate return to the Barclays Premier League at the end of last season.

That said, the ramifications of relegation to the Coca-Cola Championship mean the Teessiders might have to consider any sizeable offer as they attempt to re-shape their squad for life outside the top flight.

They are unlikely to be able to cash in on England winger Stewart Downing, who is facing between four and six months on the sidelines undergoing surgery on a foot injury suffered in the penultimate game of the season against Aston Villa.

The 24-year-old, who was the subject of a £15million bid from Tottenham in January, has been told he can leave if a big club comes in at the right price, although he seems likely to remain with his hometown club until the winter transfer window at least.

Wheater is himself currently recovering from an operation to repair a knee cartilage, but is expected to be fit again for the start of pre-season training.

Boro have been linked with Harewood, who joined Villa from West Ham for £4million in July 2007, before, although club sources have privately played down suggestions he is on manager Gareth Southgate's summer shopping list.

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Tottenham Hotspur
Stewart Downing
Premier League
Marlon Harewood
Gareth Southgate
David Wheater
Aston Villa

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