RHYS Williams insists he will not be joining the summer exodus from Middlesbrough, even if a Premier League club comes in for him in the final three-and-a-half weeks of the transfer window.

The likes of Andrew Taylor, Didier Digard, Kris Boyd and Leroy Lita have all left the Riverside this summer, but Tony Mowbray still needs to move further players on if he is to make significant signings of his own before the transfer window closes on August 31.

Williams is arguably the most saleable asset on Boro's books, and the Australian has attracted the interest of a number of top-flight clubs in the last 12 months.

Bolton boss Owen Coyle remains a long-standing admirer of the 23-year-old, and is expected to table a formal offer for his services if Gary Cahill leaves the Reebok Stadium this month.

Mowbray has always insisted that Williams will not be sacrificed, and after he made a goalscoring start to the current campaign in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Portsmouth, the versatile midfielder underlined his own desire to remain on Teesside.

"I see my future here at Middlesbrough," said Williams, who will miss tomorrow's Carling Cup first-round tie with Walsall because of his international commitments with Australia. "I see my future in the Premier League, but I'm confident that will be with Middlesbrough.

"We have the right manager here and even though there have been a few changes, I'm confident we can have a really good shot at it this season.

"I'm very happy here, in fact I think we're going to start talking about a new contract soon. I'd be absolutely delighted to stay as I have a good relationship with all the lads and get on well with the manager too.

"If there's interest in me or not, it doesn't really matter. I'm happy here, and the best thing for me now is to get a full season under my belt. After all the injuries I've had, I need to be playing week in, week out."

After being shuffled into a variety of positions last season, Williams is hoping the majority of his playing time in the current campaign comes in midfield.

Mowbray believes that centre-half is the Academy product's best position, but having comprehensively outclassed his midfield opponents at the weekend, Williams is keen to remain further up the field.

"I played in a lot of positions last season, but I've spoken to the gaffer and this season I want to play through the middle of midfield if I can," he said. "I know there are times when I might have to play at centre-half, but hopefully I'll be spending most of my time in the middle of the pitch."

Unfortunately, Saturday's performance did not help Middlesbrough make a winning start to the season, as Luke Varney's stoppage-time strike earned Portsmouth a share of the spoils.

Nevertheless, Williams felt there were more than enough positives to suggest that progress is being made.

"We can see the light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "It's been a difficult period, but I think everyone can see where we're heading now. We're playing some really good football and there are bits of this performance we can be really pleased with.

"Judging on this performance, if we can keep the squad together and players fit, we have a good chance with a good young squad."

Saturday's game proved particularly memorable for the Williams family as, for the final 27 minutes, Rhys was joined on the field by his 17-year-old brother Ryan, who was making his senior debut for Pompey after being promoted from the south coast club's Academy this summer.

"That made the day to be honest," said Rhys. "He's made his debut and it's great to have been a part of that. He's still a teenager, and hopefully he'll have a really bright future.

"My mum flew over because we knew there was a chance it might happen. It's great that it did. Ryan's been here loads to watch me so it's fitting he made his debut here."