Middlesbrough must prove their ambition to Jonathan Woodgate if they are to keep the on-loan Real Madrid man on a permanent basis, according to manager Gareth Southgate.
The England international has made a huge impact at The Riverside since joining from the Spanish titans in the summer and Boro are understandably keen to keep hold of Woodgate on a long-term deal.
Real are yet to confirm whether the former Newcastle man will be included in Fabio Capello's plans for next season, leaving his future at the Bernabeu up in the air at present, but a number of suitors are likely to emerge should he become available.
If a chance to sign the defender does arise then Southgate wants the North East club to be in a position to convince Woodgate that his prospects are best served at his boyhood club.
"We would love to keep him, no question," Southgate told the club's official website.
"I think he is enjoying being here. We need to show him over the next four months how ambitious we are. We have to convince him we are moving in the right direction.
"He is an ambitious boy but it is important to him that he enjoys the environment in which he trains and plays.
"Hopefully he can see where I want to take the club and the drive that both I and the chairman have for it. The bonus for us is that this is his home town and that means a lot to him."
Woodgate's consistently impressive form - coming after nearly two years of persistent injury problems - has also led to sustained talk of an England recall for the former Leeds man.
However Southgate has again underlined that the Tesside native's primary concern is continuing his rejuvenation at The Riverside.
"He is good enough [for England] and he has got a level of performance which means he would do himself justice," Southgate added.
"What is important for him is that he wants to get a complete season under his belt.
"It would be a bonus for him if he got a call-up, but right now he is only really concentrating on playing as many games as possible for us."