CHRIS WILDER is adamant Paddy McNair will not be leaving Middlesbrough next month, and regards the 26-year-old as a linchpin of his first-choice backline.

McNair has been the subject of mounting transfer speculation in the last couple of weeks, with Premier League side West Ham United and Scottish Premier League club Celtic both reportedly monitoring his position at the Riverside.

Neil Warnock ruled out any chance of McNair moving on when similar stories emerged in the summer, and Wilder is equally determined to retain the Northern Irishman, who is contracted to the Riverside until the summer of 2024.

The Boro boss has been delighted with McNair’s performances as part of a three-man defence on his watch, and while he accepts the Manchester United academy product is capable of playing in the Premier League, he hopes that will be with a Boro shirt on his back.

“Paddy is a really good player and is somebody we want to keep and build around because he’s got all the attributes,” said Wilder, whose side return to action against Bournemouth at the weekend. “He’s already an international player, he’s got the attributes to play in that big league and I’m not going to shy away from that, that’s where we want to be.

“I’m not going to take the pressure off the players, and Paddy will understand that because he is a good player. He wants to get there, and we’ve got to have other players of that calibre that supplement what we’ve got in the Paddy McNairs of this world.

“He’s a brilliant character, a really good pro and a very talented footballer who has got a mindset of wanting to achieve. Paddy’s attitude has been first class, and he’s somebody that we’re delighted to work with.”

Dael Fry has also been the subject of renewed speculation in recent weeks, with Burnley understood to regard the defender as a potential replacement for either James Tarkowski or Ben Mee, both of whom have been linked with possible moves away from Turf Moor next month.

Burnley have made at least two unsuccessful bids for Fry in the past, and the Boro hierarchy remain steadfast in their determination to keep the homegrown centre-half at the Riverside.

Even if the Clarets were to return with another formal offer next month, all the indications at the moment are that it would be rejected.

Boro’s recruitment team are currently focusing their attention on trying to add to the ranks next month, with goalkeeper understood to be a key priority area.

The Teessiders currently have three senior shot-stoppers on their books – Joe Lumley, Luke Daniels and Dejan Stojanovic – but none have been particularly convincing so far this season.

Lumley started the campaign as Warnock’s first choice, but was dropped in the wake of October’s 2-0 defeat to Birmingham. Daniels had started every game under Wilder prior to last weekend, but Lumley returned to keep a clean sheet in the goalless draw at Stoke.

Nevertheless, Wilder is understood to be assessing his options ahead of the transfer window reopening at the start of next month, with a number of potential targets being discussed.

Recalling youngster Sol Brynn from his loan deal in Scotland is an option, with the 21-year-old having received rave reviews for his performances in the Scottish Championship with Queen of the South.

Wilder must also decide whether to trigger the recall clause in Djed Spence’s season-long loan deal at Nottingham Forest.

Spence is known to be keen to remain at the City Ground for the second half of the season, and Forest boss Steve Cooper is keen to keep the right-back in his squad. However, Boro are able to demand Spence’s return at the start of next month regardless of the player’s stance if they so wish.

Wilder will have to balance the potential benefits of restoring Spence to the Boro squad against the possibility for disruption if the 21-year-old is forced to return to Teesside against his wishes.