Boro in move to snatch Neville

MIDDLESBROUGH have targeted Gary Neville to lead them back to the Premier League.

Boro boss Gareth Southgate has put the United captain at the top of his wishlist as he looks to bounce back from the Championship.

He believes he can tempt the 34-year-old with the chance of regular first-team football and the chance to stay in Fabio Capello's World Cup plans.

Southgate is ready to test the water with an enquiry for a player he would hope to pick up for a nominal fee.

Neville has one year left on his United contract but looks certain to play an increasingly peripheral role now he is fourth choice right-back behind Wes Brown, Rafael da Silva and John O'Shea.

He made only 16 Premier League appearances last season and was left out of United's Champions League final squad.

But he has been included in Capello's latest England squad, giving him a glimmer of hope that he could be among the party to travel to South Africa next summer.

Sir Alex Ferguson plans to offer Neville a coaching role when his playing days are over, but the defender could see a move to Middlesbrough as the chance to further extend his glittering career.

Southgate knows Neville from their England days together. What's more, Neville's salary demands will not prove prohibitive with Boro chairman, Steve Gibson prepared to maintain a Premier League wage bill in a bid secure a return to the top flight.

Southgate has identified the need for a leader at the back and could play Neville at either the right or centre of defence.

Neville has battled back from career-threatening ankle and calf injuries in the past two years and could be tempted by one last challenge before hanging up his boots.

Date Published: 3 June 2009