Southgate: Middlesbrough kids can follow Wheater example

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate wants his young players to use David Wheater as inspiration.

The 21-year-old central defender started the season lying behind the likes of Jonathan Woodgate, Emanuel Pogatetz, Robert Huth and Chris Riggott in the pecking order.

However, injuries gave him the chance to break into the team and he has taken it to such an extent he found himself in England boss Fabio Capello's initial squad of 30 for the friendly clash with France last week.

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The Redcar-born defender, like winger Stewart Downing who was used as a substitute in Paris on his return to the international squad, is a graduate of Boro's hugely-productive academy.

Southgate is delighted with the example both men have set for the club's current crop of potential stars of the future.

"It is really positive for the academy. It shows the talent they have been able to bring through," said the Boro boss. "We have had an outstanding crop of young players come through.

"The downside of having a small squad is that you get a few injuries and you really are stretched.

"But the positive thing about it is that young players get their chance and without an opportunity who knows whether people are going to make it?

"That is what has happened with David this year. He has got an opportunity that maybe at another club he might not have got and he has grabbed it.

"The thing about sport is when you get those opportunities, you have to take them."

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