Blades play down Tonge reports

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SHEFFIELD UNITED are looking to play down reports that Michael Tonge is set for a winter move to Premiership giants Liverpool.

The 19-year-old is wowing the Bramall Lane faithful with his sparkling displays so far this season and has attracted interest from several top-flight clubs.

Having scored five goals and been at the heart of most of the good moments for The Blades, Tonge has also forced his way into the England Under-20 side.

Gerard Houllier is thought to have watched Tonge for some time and has been linked with a winter move for Neil Warnock's star man.

Blades assistant boss Kevin Blackwell admits that big clubs have been watching Tonge, but says that no deal has been agreed for the youngster.

Blackwell says that the rumours over his future may distract him from his football, and wants to quieten the speculation surrounding him.

"We know top clubs are looking at Michael," said Blackwell. "We cannot dispute that.

"But we would like all these rumours to stop because there is no substance to them and while it's great for Michael, we don't want him distracted by speculation that is wide of the mark."

The reports have not gone unnoticed with Tonge, who has already stated his desire to play in The Premiership one day.

Warnock is loathed to lose his young stars but has already stated that the club may be forced to sell if a large enough offer comes in.