Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is hoping to convince utility man Matthew Bates to sign a new deal to stay on Teesside.
Bates is out of contract at the end of this month and has been in talks with the Boro boss after finally breaking into the side last season.
The 22-year-old, who has had two serious knee injuries, has attracted interest from Wigan and West Ham, but Southgate wants him to stay after impressing in a new central midfield role.
Southgate said: 'One of my priorities is trying to get Matthew to re-sign for the club. In fact, if we can convince him to stay, I would see him as a key signing. I'm quite hopeful.
'He has got the right drive, mentality and attitude, the sort of qualities that I want my players to have, plus the football he played for us during the final weeks of the season was enough to make me feel he can have a real impact for us next season.
'He overcame some serious injuries and the time he has spent out of the game seems to have made him hungry to make up for lost time and do well. I've been impressed with him and I'd like him to stay here.'