Liverpool handed boost in pursuit of England under 21 ace

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Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray has conceded that the club will struggle to keep hold of David Wheater.

The defender is a reported target for Liverpool, who have been linked with a January move for the 23-year-old. Now Mowbray has admitted that Boro will struggle to keep the former England under 21 international if a 'bigger fish' comes along.

He told the Evening Gazette: “What our supporters need to know is that our desire, our wish, is that David signs a long-term contract and stays here.

“But sometimes the reality is that, where we are at the moment, if bigger fish come along and are courting David then we have to look at all aspects of where we stand and make the best decision for the football club.

“It will come out in the wash over the next few weeks or months.”

Wheater emerged last week as a surprise target for Roy Hodgson as the Liverpool boss looks to add more defensive options to his depleted squad in January.

The Middlesbrough academy graduate is thought to be available for around £8 million and would certainly fit with the ethos of Liverpool owners NESV who are determined to bring top young talent to Anfield.

Liverpool have also been linked with Swiss youngster Valentin Stocker and Israeli starlet Omri Altman as NESV look to invest in the future at Anfield.

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