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Boro boss: Big move and England caps ahead for Gibson

Middlesbrough boss Steve Agnew believes Gibson can handle whatever comes his way Credit: PA

Middlesbrough are confident Ben Gibson will keep his feet firmly on the ground after breaking into the senior England squad and being linked with a £25 million-plus summer transfer.

The 24-year-old central defender returned to Teesside this week fresh from his first experience of life on the international stage and waded back into the thick of a battle for Premier League survival.

Boro have suspected all along that whatever happens over the next few weeks, they would face a fight to hang on to one of their homegrown talents this summer and it is understood a minimum valuation of £25million has been placed on his head.

But as Gibson turned his attention to Sunday's vital Barclays Premier League trip to Swansea, interim head coach Steve Agnew had no doubts about the player's ability to remain unaffected by the attention surrounding him.

He's the one who is level-headed, intelligent. For Ben to keep his feet on the ground is the easiest thing in the world, so no problem.

I think Ben can go as far in his career as he wants to. He's driven - obviously his first thought now is Middlesbrough Football Club, he's a Middlesbrough boy and that's where he is now.

I'm sure in the future, he will get more international recognition.

The full cap is probably just around the corner and in terms of moving on or moving to bigger and better things, I certainly think Ben is more than capable.

– Steve Agnew

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Gibson: England call-up is something you dream of

Ben Gibson didn't make his debut, but was pleased to get a first call-up to the international squad Credit: PA

Middlesbrough captain Ben Gibson has spoken of his pride after earning his first senior England call-up for Sunday's 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Lithuania.

The 24-year-old revealed he had been set to jet off on a short break with his girlfriend when he got the call from Gareth Southgate to join the squad after an injury to Chris Smalling.

Gibson, who has impressed in the Boro back-line this season despite their slump into the relegation zone, was an unused substitute in the routine Wembley win, and told the BBC he couldn't wait to link up with the squad.

It has all been a bit of whirlwind - I had just got my boarding passes printed for a short trip to Majorca with my girlfriend when I got the call on Friday lunchtime.

The trip had to be put on hold and I couldn't get down (to Wembley) quickly enough.

To be called up to represent your country, to be a part of it, is such a proud moment, not just for me, for my family who go everywhere with me.

It's something you dream of growing up and it was a privilege to be there.

– Ben Gibson

Chairman Gibson: Agnew can be glue to unify Boro

Steve Agnew's first game in charge of Boro was against Manchester United Credit: PA

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has hinted that Steve Agnew will be Aitor Karanka's long-term successor.

Gibson placed assistant head coach Agnew in charge of team affairs on Thursday after Spaniard Karanka's reign had come to a close.

In the process, he handed Agnew a chance to stake a claim for the job and is hoping he takes it.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's visit of Manchester United, Gibson gave his thoughts to the official club website on why Agnew might be the right choice - as well as paying tribute to outgoing boss Karanka.

Steve will have full autonomy as first-team coach. I hope he's here this time next year or the year after.

He has a lot of qualities. He is a very good coach, a deep thinker, loads of experience, knows this club, is a man of integrity and the players trust and like him.

I've known him a long, long time and he's a smashing lad. I think he can be the glue to unify us completely.

I think the squad is good enough to stay up, but it has been a difficult period. Perhaps we are low on confidence and it's Steve's job to raise that.

[Aitor Karanka] handled it with great dignity. He's a great guy and he's part of our history. He achieved something very difficult.

We are better because of him and I hope he is better because of the experience. We wish him all the very best. He deserves a good future in the game.

He took us from a club that was struggling in the Championship to the Premier League.

He's a special guy and we will stay friends, our families will stay friends, and we will have a beer and have some dinner and we will always be friends.

– Steve Gibson

Agnew: Keeping Boro up would be biggest achievement

Steve Agnew wanted a management job even before Aitor Karanka left Credit: AP

Steve Agnew has admitted keeping Middlesbrough in the Premier League would be the biggest achievement of his life.

Agnew was installed as the club's interim head coach on Thursday after Aitor Karanka's reign on Teesside drew to a close after almost three and a half years.

As he took up the reins, Boro lay in 19th place in the league, three points adrift of safety and without a win in 10 outings, but the former Leicester and Sunderland midfielder is confident he can pull off a rescue mission.

Agnew has also admitted he would have been ready to leave Boro and look for a management opportunity elsewhere, had Karanka not departed when he did.

It would be the biggest single achievement of my life. I sit here and I keep using the word 'confident', and I do believe we will stay in the Premier League.

I think I'm capable of delivering it, the players are capable of delivering it and I know we have got the support of everyone else in the club, and the supporters will play a massive part in that.

[A management job] was very, very close for me. It's not ideal, the circumstances, the way it's happened, but yes, it was around the corner.

I have waited patiently and I am very, very confident that I will be successful.

[Chairman Steve Gibson] was as brief as, 'Get on with it, enjoy it and organise the team for the weekend', and that's as much as I wanted to hear. I didn't go into anything more than that and that's where I am with it all - and quite relaxed with that.

I have to be honest, it was a really difficult day yesterday, a very emotional day, but then today the players have trained well and we look forward to the weekend.

– Steve Agnew

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Boro chairman says boss Karanka departed by choice

Aitor Karanka left Middlesbrough on Thursday Credit: PA

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has revealed Aitor Karanka "sacrificed himself" after failing to drag the club out of their relegation tailspin.

The Spaniard parted company with Boro, who sit in 19th place in the Premier League table, on Thursday three years and four months into his reign following lengthy talks with Gibson.

However, the Teesside businessman has insisted to the Times that the man who was mentored by Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid left of his own accord, while also suggesting Karanka's assistant Steve Agnew could yet be appointed permanent boss.

I know people are cynical when you say that a decision was mutual, but he wasn't sacked. He sacrificed himself.

He's in a good frame of mind. I think he's relieved. He has been enormous for our club. He has progressed us and he will have learnt an enormous amount from this experience.

He's got a wonderful future in football - I really think that.

I've known Steve [Agnew] a long time. He's a very good coach and a very good number two. There's more to him than people know and a bit more steel.

Steve could be a surprise number one. That may disappoint those people who want glamour and somebody to come in ready-made, a sexy name, but that's not what we need at this point.

I want to find out about Steve.

– Steve Gibson

Karanka warns Leicester to raise offer for Ramirez

Gaston Ramirez is wanted by Leicester. Credit: PA

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has warned Premier League champions Leicester they will not get want-away midfielder Gaston Ramirez on the cheap.

Karanka confirmed that the 26-year-old Uruguay international has handed in a transfer request, and that the Foxes have had a bid for his services rejected as he faces a battle to hang on to a man the Teessiders worked hard to sign on a permanent basis during the summer.

Karanka said: "Yes, he's handed in a transfer request, but the offer that we received is not good enough.

"It's more than difficult, it's frustrating because he was calling us to play here last season. He played his best last season, he went back to the national team again playing with us and to have this situation is frustrating as a coach and as a person."

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri was coy when asked a bout the situation at his pre-match press conference.

The Italian said: "This is not my matter. I am head coach, I am not manager. I don't speak about money."

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