Boro to stick with youth
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate insists the club will stick with their youth policy, no matter what next season holds for them. Despite being entrenched in a relegation battle, Boro are still proud of their youth policy which has seen them produce a host of first-team players in recent years. Southgate went into the season with one of the youngest squads in the country, with the oldest player at the club being 28. But Southgate says he does not regret allowing more experienced campaigners to depart The Riverside. "It's too easy to say that experience might have made a difference, for the experience we had either wanted to move on or we had to sell," he said. "Successful teams do have experienced players but the bigger picture is why we had to take those decisions - and the people who have moved on have had mixed seasons. "The crucial thing is who you are able to bring in. "In an ideal world you would bring your young players through the ranks and financially for clubs like ourselves that is the future because it is impossible to compete with the billionaires coming into the league. "If you get 20 billionaires, three are still going to get relegated, so there has to be a sense of how you build a football club for its long-term survival. "We will continue to invest in the academy and what we have to do is ensure the quality of player coming through is good enough to play at the highest level." Nothing differentDespite the club looking odds on for relegation, Southgate insists he will not be approaching things any differently next term. "There are no thoughts in my mind of doing anything different next season but of course I have learned lessons," he said. "I think you would be mad if you were in this position and had not learned lessons but the benefit of hindsight is something we have every Monday morning after a fixture." Southgate also revealed that a number of agents had already started working on moves away from the club for some of his squad. "We haven't had any enquiries from managers as yet," Southgate said. "I have had calls from certain agents and that disappoints you, but I am not naive enough to think it doesn't go on. Personal agendas have to be put to one side. "The players should not be looking for the life raft, but must strive to keep this side up. "Everyone at this club is our player until either their contract runs out or we decide that we're prepared to accept an offer. We have to keep this thing alive on Saturday. If we take it the distance, something strange could happen."
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