Bates yet to agree Boro deal
Middlesbrough face battle to keep starlet
Last Updated: March 17, 2009 2:01pm
Matthew Bates admits he is yet to agree a new contract with Middlesbrough.
The 22-year-old has battled back from three career-threatening knee injuries and is now enjoying his best-ever run in the club's first team.
He has also emerged as a true utility man as the defender is currently holding his own in Boro's central midfield.
However, Boro are yet to agree a new deal with Bates - whose current deal is set to expire in the summer - contrary to weekend reports which claimed a three-year contract was signed and sealed.
Indeed a host of clubs including Everton, West Ham and Bolton are understood to be keeping close tabs on the situation.
Boro have only just opened talks with Bates - who will be free to walk away from The Riverside at the end of the season, although any English club wanting to sign him would have to pay compensation.
"There have been talks, the club (Middlesbrough) has made contact," Bates told the Northern Echo.
"But I'm just pleased to be playing again after all my injury troubles.
"I don't want any distractions and I just want to keep playing until the end of the season."
Full-back Tony McMahon is also out-of-contract in the summer and he is hopeful of playing his way back into Gareth Southgate's plans.
"My contract is up in the summer so obviously I'm playing for my future," he told the Evening Gazette.
"The gaffer's said to me he wants me to stay, which is brilliant, but I'm doing my negotiating for my new contract on the field and I've got to keep playing well.
"When I got my chance against Portsmouth I knew it was a big opportunity for me personally.
"I knew I had to perform and I have to do that every single week now. I'm in there now and it's up to me to keep playing well."