Waiting game for Southgate

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Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is closing on his first transfer targets as he waits to see which of his players he can hold on to.

The former England defender has been back at work since last week after a short break and is starting to put his recruitment plans into action.

"I have players who have Premier League experience and who will obviously interest other clubs," Southgate said. "There are those that we will have difficulty hanging on to and there are some who I am keen to ensure stay with us and who are fully committed to the challenge ahead. At the same time, we will have to replace those players who do leave."

He added: "Our supporters have to realise that there will be loads of speculative stories appearing in the press over the summer, either linking us with players or suggesting which clubs might be interested in our players.

"Some of those stories will have an element of truth about them, some of them will be close to the mark and some will be neither and have no truth in them at all.

"I accept that's the way it will be and it's important the fans understand that will happen too, as it always does."

Boro received little encouragement when they made an initial inquiry about Manchester United veterans Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, but have drawn up a list of potential targets.

However, much could depend on exactly where the likes of Tuncay Sanli, Robert Huth and Gary O'Neil are playing their football next season - Stewart Downing's foot injury means he is unlikely to be sold - and the financial implications for the Teessiders.

Southgate said: "I have had 10 days away to clear my head and recharge, but I'm back in the office now and lots of other club staff are.

"Unfortunately, people at many other clubs are still away right now, so that makes things more difficult, but it's not impossible to make progress."

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Stewart Downing
Gary O'Neil
Robert Huth
Tuncay Sanli
Premier League
Manchester United
Gareth Southgate
Paul Scholes
Gary Neville

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