No fire sale at Middlesbrough, warns Mowbray
TONY Mowbray witnessed Middlesbrough head in to the new year on the back of a much-needed win before insisting there will be no fire sale during next month's transfer window. Clubs from across the country were represented at Deepdale yesterday when David Wheater, attracting interest from a number of Premier League outfits, followed up birthday boy Leroy Lita's double with a fine header. The goals at Preston secured Middlesbrough's second victory in seven Championship matches, keeping them above the relegation zone ahead of the New Year's Day trip to Leeds United. But Mowbray accepts he is likely to be faced with a testing month, in which every member of his playing staff could be sold if suitable offers arrive on the table. Wheater, Gary O'Neil, Kris Boyd and Seb Hines are the most likely candidates to depart, although the manager claims no one will leave if the deal does not suit Boro. One or two clubs have made their initial contact for players, said a realistic Mowbray. The bottom line is that we are in a situation where we have to see what develops. We have valuations of players, you don't jump at the first tentative offer that comes your way. I have to keep the place focused and make sure the players forget about everything that is going on. It's important that we have valuations and we try to keep to them, that's what the chairman thinks and I think. We do understand financially where we are, but it's not a need to fire-sale people out. We do need stability here. We need to get salaries back at this club that is manageable with the resources we have. There's no Premier League money coming in, parachute payments are close to expiring. We have merchandising and gate money, we need this club to operate within its means. Mowbray was, once again, full of admiration for the way Wheater performed. The 23- year-old was solid defensively and headed in the third in a 3-1 win at Preston. Such a display arrived at a time when the centre-back knows he could be leaving the club he has graduated through the ranks within weeks, with the likes of Wolves, Everton, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sunderland among those interested. In the ten games I have been here, I can't point the finger and say he has not applied himself, said Mowbray, who took over in October. He has been a credit to the club and his family. I wish him well, he is a good lad. The fans showed their appreciation and we would all be trying to give him a contract that keeps him here a long time if we were in a financial position where we could. We are not. We are at the wrong end of the Championship, we just have to see what January brings. Wheater's situation is mirrored through the squad, with Mowbray accepting that 2011 will be a year of change under his management. The fans deserve more than we have been producing, he said. Hopefully that is the start, I have said that before, but hopefully we follow that up with another good performance at Leeds. It's in our own hands still. We have to get away from the bottom. We have decent players here who have under achieved hugely. We have to build their belief. January is around the corner, someone may stick a big pin in the bubble, we might lose some key players. My job is to replace them with manageable players we can afford. At this stage Mowbray's preferred striker option is Lita, who celebrated his 26th birthday with a clinical double at Preston. The striker, keeping out Scott McDonald and Boyd, now has four for the season and three of those have arrived under Mowbray. And the Boro boss said: The days I leave Leroy out he is not happy, of course. He does not cause problems for us. He gets on with it and waits for his chance. He wants to learn and get better. Can he be frustrating Yes. When he scored he still made some poor decisions, like shooting instead of playing it square to Scott. He was never going to pass, he was on a hattrick. I'm not going to criticise him. Woodgate link played down MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Mowbray has played down speculation linking him with a loan move for Tottenham defender Jonathan Woodgate. Reports have suggested the 30- year-old could be on his way back to the Riverside Stadium after Spurs manager Harry Redknapp revealed he would let him go out on loan to regain match-fitness. It's news to me we will wait and see what January brings, Mowbray said. Anybody who takes Woodgate would expect him to play and whilst (David) Wheater and (Matthew) Bates are here it would be difficult for me to bring in a loan player and disappoint one of our own players. Loans are always difficult. It's not something at the moment that I'm working on but I know Woodgate was a big success as a player here. Woodgate would be seen as an ideal replacement for David Wheater, who added to his growing stock with the third goal in Boro's 3-1 victory at bottom club Preston yesterday. The 23-year-old will be out of contract at the end of the season and Mowbray did little to quash reports of a January move away from the club. Mowbray added: Wheater is too valuable an asset for us to let him walk away on a free in summer. We are in a situation which isn't ideal because you can see the connection he has with our supporters.
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