Macclesfield Town 0 Middlesbrough 3

MIDDLESBROUGH have turned down a Middle-Eastern bid for Afonso Alves, but boss Gareth Southgate admits he does not expect either the Brazilian or fellow striker Tuncay Sanli to remain beyond the end of the transfer window.

Neither Alves nor Tuncay travelled to Macclesfield on Saturday as Boro opened their pre-season schedule with a comfortable 3-0 victory over League Two opposition.

Tuncay is the subject of interest from Villarreal, and while the La Liga outfit are yet to table a formal bid for the Turkey international, Southgate accepts he’s extremely unlikely to be calling on the forward’s services next season.

The same is true of Alves, although the £12.7m fee Boro paid Heerenveen in January 2008 is making it difficult to move the Brazilian on.

A club based in the United Arab Emirates has been in contact with Middlesbrough officials, but their bid is understood to have been around the £3m mark and it was turned down flat.

“We’ve had a bid for Afonso, but it wasn’t something we deemed to be acceptable,” said Southgate, who watched second- half goals from Julio Arca, Marvin Emnes and Jonathan Franks secure a routine win at Moss Rose. “To be honest, it wasn’t anywhere near what we would accept.

“We haven’t had a bid for Tuncay, but we’re waiting to see what happens. We’re assuming that he’ll move on, but nothing is guaranteed. He’s back into training and he’s done all the running. He has to get himself ready for preseason now, whether it’s here or somewhere else.

“(The sale of Stewart Downing) is one less issue we have to deal with, but we know there are a few more we’ll have in the future.”

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding Mido falls into that category, with the Egyptian effectively on strike as he refuses to return to pre-season training.

The striker is in conflict with Middlesbrough over unpaid image rights payments he claims he is owed in the wake of his £6m transfer from Tottenham in August 2007.

Boro docked Mido two weeks’ wages when he failed to return to Rockliffe Park a fortnight ago, and will continue to dock his pay until he makes himself available for training.

“It’s very simple – Mido has to get himself back and into training with us,” said Southgate.

“This club will not be paying anybody who is not in training with us.

“We’ll deal with what happens after that as and when he’s ready to join in with that training, but nothing will knock us off what we want to achieve. The players that want to be here have to have the focus they’ve showed so far, and put the other distractions to one side.”

Those distractions no longer include speculation over Downing after he completed a £12m move to Aston Villa at the end of last week.

Southgate continues to covet Derby striker Rob Hulse but, with last season’s relegation having left a £20m hole in Boro’s budget, most of the money secured from Downing’s sale has already been accounted for.

“That money is important to us as a club,” said Southgate.

“At this moment in time, we have a lot of strikers and cover in all areas. It’s when something else moves that we have to be ready to replace players.”

Boro fielded four strikers at the weekend, with Southgate changing all ten outfield players at half-time. Jeremie Aliadiere and Gary Martin struggled to make an impact before the interval, but Emnes and Franks looked much more lively as the Teessiders eventually outclassed their opponents .

After Arca broke the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute following a Shaun Brisley handball, Emnes displayed the kind of fluent footwork that was rarely displayed by any Middlesbrough player last season to double the visitors’ lead.

The equally energetic Franks scored a goal of his own two minutes later, casually slotting home from close range.


MIDDLESBROUGH FIRST HALF (4-4-2): Coyne, Hoyte, Huth, Williams, Grounds, Yeates, Walker, Digard, Cronesberry, Aliadiere, Martin.

MIDDLESBROUGH SECOND HALF (4-4-2): Coyne, McMahon, Bates, Hines, Johnson, Smallwood, O’Neil, Arca, Porritt, Emnes, Franks.

Attendance: 728