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Last Updated: Friday, 16 January, 2004, 14:09 GMT
Boro face Heskey battle
England international striker Emile Heskey

Liverpool will fight to keep Emile Heskey after Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren confirmed his interest.

Heskey has been linked with moves to Boro and AC Milan as Liverpool line up Auxerre's Djibril Cisse this summer.

And McClaren admitted: "He's someone we are definitely interested in and we are speaking with Liverpool."

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier told BBC Sport Heskey was a target for clubs, but insisted he was not keen to sell during the January transfer window.

Houllier said: "Nobody will be leaving. Surely people know what I think about my players.

"Clearly I must repeat myself. Nobody is going to leave and nobody is going to come in."

But McClaren will not give up, saying: "When we're looking in the January window and we need to score goals, I think there are two types of strikers you can look at and try to buy.

"There's the 20-goal-a-season man and they're very, very difficult to find and if anybody's got them, they hold on to them.

"The other type of striker is someone who can lead the line, who can not just score goals, but also create space and create goals for other people, and I think Emile Heskey falls into that category.

"Everybody has seen at Liverpool how he's helped Michael Owen, I've seen it with England, so that's what I admire in that player.

"But in the overall picture, taking Emile away from it, they're the two types of strikers and they're the types we're looking for in the window."

He also confirmed his interest in Nicky Butt and said: "Nicky is a player everybody knows I admire and if it was possible I would love him to be here - but we have other priorities."

Heskey has been in good form recently, but with a 14m deal for Cisse already in place, Liverpool are considering selling the England striker.

McClaren is an admirer of Heskey after working with him at England level, but it is understood the player is not keen on a move to Teesside.

If Boro are to do a deal they will need to offer Liverpool at least 5m.

AC Milan made inquiries, but wanted Heskey on loan until the end of the season.

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