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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 8, 2009

Southgate and Boro stand firm over Downing

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has warned Tottenham against hoping for a late U-turn on their decision not to sell winger Stewart Downing.

The north London club are understood to have turned to alternative targets after having two official offers for Downing rejected by the Teessiders, with Southgate denying claims that a third bid amounting to £14.5million had been received.

However, if they are harbouring any hopes of a change of heart at the Riverside Stadium as the transfer window runs down, they have been told to forget it.

That is exactly what happened with striker Ayegbeni Yakubu two summers ago when, after fending off Everton's interest for several weeks, Boro eventually accepted their £11.25million bid with just days of the window to run.

However, that left the Teessiders no time in which to find a replacement, and the lessons have been learnt with Southgate, chairman Steve Gibson and chief executive Keith Lamb united in their stance.

Asked if there was any possibility of a repeat of the Yakubu saga, the manager replied: ''No.

''That's the relationship we have got. If people phone one of us, they phone all three because we share everything in terms of information.

''We decide on the route we are going to go collectively, and our beliefs on what is right for the club at this moment in time are the statements we have made this week.

''If we weren't united in that, we wlould have come out with different statements.

''It's a period of the season that's a nonsense, but we feel we have got to deal with it as we are.

''We are more fortunate than some in that we haven't got to sel l- other clubs have had to sell.

''Okay, we may not be in a position to buy, but we all understand that and we work with what we have got, which should be a boost for the players who are here because it gives them an opportunity to play first-team football.''

Downing has been in the headlines all week after it emerged that he was ready to hand in a written transfer request, which he promptly did on Monday morning with Spurs having made two offers for his services.

That was swiftly rejected by Boro - as were each of the approaches from White Hart Lane - as Lamb insisted neither Downing, nor any of the club's other senior players, was available.

Asked if there is a price at which that situation could change, Southgate said: ''No.

''We feel at this time of the year, he is such a talent, such an important player for us, there is no way of replacing him.

''We feel we need to keep a player of Stewart's quality.''

Southgate has spent much of his week in an ongoing dialogue with Downing in an effort to address the reasons behind his request, and has had the response for which he had hoped.

He said: ''He has been brilliant. he enjoys being at this football club, he wants it to work at this football club.

''He is frustrated about where we are in the league and obviously, another football club has unsettled him.

''But he gets out there and he trains and he works, and he wants to do well for this club.

''All the while he is here, he will give everything he has got, I have got absolutely no concerns about that at all.''

Downing is not the only man to be linked with a move away from the Riverside Stadium this month, and Southgate also played down talk of a swap deal involving striker Mido and Newcastle's Alan Smith.

In addition, he insisted Gary O'Neil, who has struggled to settle on Teesside since his £5million switch from Portsmouth during the summer of 2007, is also going nowhere.

He said: ''We had an offer, we weren't interested in the offer - he [O'Neil] is not somebody we are looking to let leave this football club.

''The issue with Gary isn't football, but the reality is that for players to leave your football club, you can accept offers, but you have got to replace them.

''Nothing we have had represents any sort of fee that we could replace our players with - and in January, I am not sure we could replace them with any fee.

''That's why we have taken the stance we have.''

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