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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 15:25 GMT
Southgate cools Man Utd talk
Middlesbrough defender Gareth Southgate
Boro are determined to keep Southgate
Middlesbrough's Gareth Southgate insists he has heard nothing about a possible January move to Manchester United.

Southgate is being touted as a possible short-term replacemence for Rio Ferdinand as he contemplates an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test.

The 33-year-old England international has been linked with a transfer window switch with United's Diego Forlan making a move to The Riverside.

But he said after the 1-0 defeat against United: "There's nothing I can do about it. People are putting two and two together. I'm not even sure they are looking to sign anybody."

There's been no contact and no talking and Gareth Southgate is an integral part of our team
Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren

Southgate admitted that Sunday's game was more awkward than it could have been because of the speculation.

"It made the match a bit difficult," he said. "I thought if I made a mistake, people might read something into it. I was just pleased to get through the game."

Boro boss Steve McClaren said: "I think all the stories are pure speculation. I've had various chats with Sir Alex and it's never been mentioned.

"There's been no contact and no talking and Gareth Southgate is an integral part of our team."

United captain Roy Keane, meanwhile, fears they could be caught short in numbers if they are hit by injuries.

He said: "Please God nothing happens to Ruud van Nistelrooy because maybe we are not as strong up front as people think we are.

"The spirit amongst the squad is outstanding but I still think we could do with another one or two players.

"When you bring someone in, it gives everyone a lift and I know myself from when the manager buys a midfield player it makes you step up another level.

"The manager is always looking at the bigger picture but squad-wise we came up a little bit short last year."

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