Middlesbrough bid for Watson accepted

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The Independent Football

Midfielder Ben Watson is poised to join Middlesbrough from Crystal Palace, who have accepted a £2m bid for the player.

Watson's future has been in doubt since he rejected a contract offer from Palace last summer - and manager Neil Warnock today confirmed a fee has been agreed by Palace chairman Simon Jordan with the Barclays Premier League club.

"The chairman has spoken to (Middlesbrough chairman) Steve Gibson - and they have agreed a £2m fee," Warnock told the Croydon Advertiser.

"It is not a foregone conclusion yet. Ben still has to agree personal terms."

The deal could include various add-ons.

Boro's assistant manager Malcolm Crosby is, meanwhile, backing manager Gareth Southgate to turn things around after seeing his club slip into relegation trouble.

Boro found themselves inside the bottom three after Saturday's 3-0 defeat by West Brom, which led to some frank admissions by the former England defender.

Southgate has insisted since he got the job at the Riverside Stadium that, despite the famed loyalty of chairman Steve Gibson to his managers, he would be shown the door if he did not get results.

The reverse at The Hawthorns left Boro without a win in 10 league matches, and the manager knowing things have to improve soon.

However, Crosby is confident the 38-year-old will get it right.

He said: "Gareth said a lot of honest things after the West Brom game at the weekend, but that's the kind of man he is.

"The one thing he would never do is try to hide from the facts. He was very, very frank with his comments.

"But one thing that Gareth Southgate will never do is to shirk a challenge, and he will tackle this one.

"His job - and my job - is to work as hard as we can to turn things around.

"We have got another game coming up this weekend. That's the beauty of football - you have always got another game to look forward to."

Boro take a break from league action this weekend, when they face Coca-Cola Championship leaders Wolves in the FA Cup fourth round.

Crosby told the Evening Gazette: "We don't like being in the bottom three, but we have a chance to reach the last 16 of the cup - and if we do that, it will put us in great heart for Chelsea the following week.

"People say we have to lift morale, but from what I have seen on the training ground that's not going to be a difficult thing.

"We all believe there were reasons beyond our control for the heavy defeat at West Brom.

"We are not going to make excuses, because we know it was a bad defeat, but the players know they are better than that scoreline.

Boro hope to have captain Emanuel Pogatetz back from a hamstring injury, while midfielder Julio Arca could be fit after missing the West Brom game with a knee problem.

Frenchman Didier Digard starts a three-game ban after being sent off against the Baggies, and teenager Josh Walker is out of action with an ankle ligament problem.