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Gareth applauds Wheater loyalty
Published : 29 May 2009 15:45:32
Gareth Southgate has expressed his delight at David Wheater's decision to stay with Middlesbrough. The highly-rated defender could have chosen to seek a move away from The Riverside following Boro's relegation from the Premier League, which was confirmed with a 2-1 defeat to West Ham on the final day of the season. Instead, he made it clear that he was happy to remain at the club and would not be requesting a transfer. Southgate is looking forward to having Wheater at his disposal for the 2009/10 Championship campaign and has saluted the 22-year-old's loyalty. "I'm absolutely delighted that David has publicly stated his commitment to the club for next season," he said. "For a young player who has already been involved in the England squad to be so readily prepared to stay on and lead our fight to regain our Premier League status is a great message for the rest of the squad. "David is a local lad and proud of it. Middlesbrough is his club and relegation hurt him as much as it hurt anyone. "Like all of us, he would rather be in the Premier League, but it's good to know he's ready and willing to drop down to the Championship and help us bounce back." Southgate has also praised utility man Matthew Bates, whose emergence from a series of knee injuries has been one positive to take from a disastrous season. "One of the most pleasing things for me was to see Matthew Bates come back from his three cruciate injuries and start to build a career, really, because there was a long period where everybody had to question whether he would play at the top level again," said Southgate. "But he has done that, which is brilliant for him."