Middlesbrough have played down reports linking defender David Wheater with a switch to Aston Villa.
The Midlands club are believed to have targeted the 22-year-old defender as the ideal replacement for recently retired former skipper Martin Laursen.
The former England Under-21 international was reported to be in line for an £8million move to Villa Park following Boro's relegation from the Premier League.
However, Middlesbrough chief executive Keith Lamb is adamant that his club wants to hang on to the towering centre-half.
"We're looking forward to David becoming the cornerstone of our defence in future years," Lamb told the Evening Gazette.
"We're absolutely delighted that David has come out publicly and said that he's staying at Middlesbrough.
"We have a fight on our hands and David is up for the fight."