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Prem Forecaster: The relegation race

Premier League
By ESPN Staff

Woodgate urged not to rush Boro decision

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate will not rush England defender Jonathan Woodgate into a decision over his future on Teesside.

Both the 27-year-old and his home-town club, where he is spending the season on loan, were surprised earlier this week when Real Madrid, who bought him from Newcastle for £13.4million, announced he had made a permanent switch to the Riverside Stadium.

Woodgate insisted after his return to the international stage against Spain on Wednesday that he would make his decision during the summer, and as far as he is concerned, remains a Real player.

Southgate is desperate to persuade the defender to take up the option the club negotiated during the summer to complete a full transfer.

However, he is adamant he will put no pressure on his former international team-mate.

Southgate said: 'It has been a bit strange in that, nothing has changed really.

'We said all along that we took Jonathan on loan with a view to a permanent move.

'The deal for that has been agreed and, as was the case when we first took him, the final decisions are with Madrid and with Jonathan and ourselves.

'We have made it clear to him we would love him to stay beyond this season, and he, of course, has plenty to think about between now and then.

'I fully understand that. We are not going to put him under any pressure, we are not trying to do anything to influence that other than providing him with an environment he is enjoying working in and trying to show him what our ambitions are as a club.

'We would love him to be a big part of the future here and be central to the steps we want to make to push ourselves onwards and upwards.

'Now, of course, he has to have a think about that and review his options. He has been fantastic for us and we will give him as long as he wants.'

Woodgate has played in 23 of Boro's 30 games this season after putting his injury problems behind him.

He is a likely starter again in the Barclays Premiership trip to Chelsea tomorrow after playing 65 minutes for his country at Old Trafford in midweek.