Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has admitted that injury could lead to winger Stewart Downing remaining with the club even if they are relegated.
The 24-year-old England international will miss the crunch clash with West Ham United this weekend, as well as his country's World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra due to a foot injury.
The problem has yet to be fully diagnosed, but summer surgery could mean that Downing misses out on a move away from the Riverside for the time being.
Southgate said: "If he is here, it probably means he won't be available for the early part of the season anyway, so it is a bit of a double-edged sword.
"I guess we have just got to see how things progress.
"Even after the operation, a player who is highly motivated like Stewart and has a real desire to get back as quickly as possible will always get back quicker than players of a different mentality."