Southgate warns players not to 'look for life raft'

Gareth Southgate said yesterday that he has not received any enquiries about Middlesbrough players and he has told his squad to concentrate on avoiding relegation rather than "looking for the life raft".

Southgate is aware of the expectation that Boro will go down, possibly tomorrow if results go a certain way, and that some of his squad will be attractive others.

"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. I would be very disappointed if players weren't entirely focussed on Saturday's game and winning."

Boro play Aston Villa at the Riverside tomorrow, and after Monday night's loss at Newcastle, need to win.

"I've reminded them of their jobs and professional obligations," added Southgate. "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."