Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has dropped a major hint that England winger Stewart Downing will be allowed to leave the club in the summer.
The 24-year-old is on the wish-list of Tottenham Hotspur, but Boro are adamant that Downing will not be sold this month, with the club facing a possible relegation battle.
Southgate told the Evening Gazette: "I sat with Stewart and we had a long chat.
"We have just said 'there is nothing going to happen now and what happens in the future happens in the future'.
"None of us can look that far forward. We have got a job to do here and now.
"Stewart asked about the possibility of a move. He knows we've had bids from Tottenham because that's the way they work. I understand Stewart's situation and he understands ours.
"He is very ambitious and I hope he will always be that. At the same time he knows how much we need him and he loves playing for this football club.
"Nothing would give him greater pleasure to help this club as long as he possibly can and for him to be playing here and us being up at the top of the league.
"Now that's obviously very difficult, but Stewart knows his job between now and the end of the season is to help this club get as high as we possibly can."