MIDDLESBROUGH boss Tony Mowbray has issued a stern warning to Brendan Rodgers – insisting that his Swansea side won’t snatch Matthew Bates away from Teesside on the cheap.
With Boro looking to strengthen a squad in which Mowbray has already described as “thin”, he is reluctant to allow his captain to leave the Riverside, although confessed that sometimes it is necessary to sell a “fan favourite” in order to improve the squad.
Mowbray told MailSport: “Sometimes, when a club bids for one of your players, you have to let him go in order to bring in new faces.
“Whether that be a fan-favourite or someone that the fans really like then so be it. If I can get a couple of million pounds for a player who is in the last year of their contract or I feel it will allow us to bring in two or three new players to give the squad a bit more depth, then it is only right to do so.”
While SportsMail understands that no concrete offer has been made from the Swans, there has been contact between the two sides over a possible fee for the 24-year-old who is out of contract next summer.
The speculation was once again fuelled when Bates wasn’t named in the squad that defeated Walsall 3-0 in the Carling Cup on Wednesday, despite travelling to the Banks’s Stadium – but Mowbray insisted that nothing was happening as of yet.
He added: “The bottom line is simple, Seb [Hines] didn’t feature of Saturday and I think he is going to play a big part for the club this season and he needs games.”
If Bates was to leave the Riverside, Boro wouldn’t be short of cover in the centre of defence with Stephen McManus, Seb Hines, Rhys Williams and Jonathan Grounds ready to fill the void.
The absence of Williams in the middle of midfield could be a blow for the side if the Australian was forced to revert to the backline.
However, Mowbray is keen to recruit in this area of the pitch and with one international set to arrive, there is the possibility that he could be joined by another.
Faris Haroun’s move from Germinal Beerschot looks set to be completed today after the midfielder passed a medical in his homeland Belgium yesterday to hurry through a transfer to Teesside.
The club have also been linked with PSV midfielder Orlando Engelaar. The 31-year-old Dutch international has been on Mowbray’s radar for sometime with Engelaar thought to have been close to a move to Scotland when Mowbray was in charge at Celtic.
The 6ft 5ins central midfielder has continued to impress the Boro boss and although he started in PSV’s 3-1 defeat to AZ Alkmaar last weekend, Mowbray believes that there is a possibility that something can be done.
He said: “Engelaar is a long shot really. He’s a boy earning a lot of money at a Champions League football club, but we’ll wait and see. He’s a Dutch international and I think he showed what a high quality footballer he is when he played against us.”
One man that won’t be joining Middlesbrough however, is Carlisle’s Francois Zoko. There have been rumours that Mowbray was interested in the 27-year-old striker and whilst it is a position that Boro are looking to strengthen, Mowbray insisted that rumours are wide of the mark.