Middlesbrough are confident Ben Gibson will keep his feet firmly on the ground after breaking into the senior England squad and being linked with a £25million-plus summer transfer.
The 24-year-old central defender returned to Teesside this week fresh from his first experience of life on the international stage and waded back into the thick of a battle for Premier League survival.
Boro have suspected all along that whatever happens over the next few weeks, they would face a fight to hang on to one of their homegrown talents this summer and it is understood a minimum valuation of £25million has been placed on his head.
But as Gibson turned his attention to Sunday’s vital Premier League trip to Swansea, interim head coach Steve Agnew had no doubts about the player’s ability to remain unaffected by the attention surrounding him.
Agnew said: “He’s the one who is level-headed, intelligent. For Ben to keep his feet on the ground is the easiest thing in the world, so no problem.
“I think Ben can go as far in his career as he wants to. He’s driven – obviously his first thought now is Middlesbrough Football Club, he’s a Middlesbrough boy and that’s where he is now.
“I’m sure in the future, he will get more international recognition. The full cap is probably just around the corner and in terms of moving on or moving to bigger and better things, I certainly think Ben is more than capable.”
In the short term, Gibson’s only focus, like that of his team-mates, has to be avoiding the drop and the next week seems likely to play a significant role in the success or otherwise of that mission.
Second-bottom Boro face the 17th-placed Swans – the last team they beat in the league 11 long games ago – and Hull in 18th inside four days and their points haul from those two fixtures seems certain to have a major say in their destiny.
To that end, Agnew boosted his coaching team this week when he brought former England defender Jonathan Woodgate back to his home-town club, and he revealed the 37-year-old is already having an impact.
Agnew said: “He’s a positive person, Jonathan. He comes in early on a morning and he leaves late at night.
“He’s got a big smile on his face and his involvement with the players on the training ground, in the restaurant upstairs, up and down the corridors, as the rest of the staff are with everybody, is really, really positive.”
Central defender Daniel Ayala will return for Sunday’s crunch trip to Swansea.
Ayala, who has made just two league appearances since October because of injury and limped out of the 2-0 defeat at Stoke on March 4 with a hamstring problem, has returned to training and is in contention to play.
Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani is also available after recovering from his exertions on international duty, but defenders George Friend (calf) and Calum Chambers (foot) are still out.
Provisional squad: Valdes, Guzan, Barragan, Fabio, Gibson, Espinosa, Ayala, Husband, Fry, De Roon, Clayton, Forshaw, Leadbitter, Guedioura, Downing, Stuani, Traore, Fischer, Negredo, Gestede, Bamford.