MIDDLESBROUGH have opened contract talks with Calum Kavanagh in an attempt to prevent the highly-rated youngster leaving the club’s academy set-up for a move to the Premier League.

Kavanagh, who is the 16-year-old son of former Boro midfielder Graham, has made significant steps forward this season, scoring for Boro’s Under-18s in a win over Liverpool and featuring in the Republic of Ireland’s youth international ranks.

He has been the subject of scouting missions from a number of top-flight sides, with Arsenal and Chelsea both having been credited with a growing interest.

In response, Boro officials have initiated contract discussions with the teenager and his representatives, and are hopeful of persuading him to continue his development on Teesside, at a club where head coach Jonathan Woodgate has repeatedly displayed his willingness to give young players a chance.

“Middlesbrough are speaking to him about a contract, as they have been for the last number of weeks,” said Graham. “We’ll have to see where that goes and what happens with that.

“For the age he’s at and what he is doing, he is certainly a better prospect than I was at that age. He’s got a great mindset, is very professional, very driven and tough, mentally strong. He’s definitely got a chance.”

Kavanagh has confirmed that he and his son are aware of the reports flagging up a possible move to the Premier League, but is adamant Calum’s long-term career prospects must come first.

“Those clubs are obviously huge clubs,” he said. “Financially, they are in a different league to most clubs, so they can buy who they want.

“That is magnificent in one respect, but then it’s a little tougher to make the grade at those clubs. So, if they were to come in and make an offer, then obviously we’d have to discuss it and see.

“Calum is always of the opinion he wants to have a career and wherever that career is, he’ll decide. It’s about having a long-term view.”