Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Football: You'd Be Mad to Let Him Go! on the Boro Beat O'Neil Urges Club to Keep Hold of Stewy

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Football: You'd Be Mad to Let Him Go! on the Boro Beat O'Neil Urges Club to Keep Hold of Stewy

Article excerpt

Byline: By ADAM STEEL

GARY O'NEIL believes Boro would be "mad" to let Stewart Downing leave the club.

Tottenham remain hot on Downing's trail but Boro are awaiting a sensible offer from the Londoners before they will consider selling him during the January transfer window.

And O'Neil is adamant that Boro must hold on to his fellow wide man at all costs as they attempt to steer clear of the relegation zone.

"Stewart is a vital player for the club and I think the club must be desperate to keep him because he is a fantastic player," said O'Neil.

"There aren't many left-footed players around with his quality so I think we would be mad to let him go."

O'Neil added: "It's massively important that we don't sell any of our best players. We haven't got the biggest of squads so I don't think the gaffer will be looking to let people go.

"I think if we can keep the squad together and maybe add a couple more, we will have a good chance of climbing into the top half."

With the Downing situation dragging on, strengthening up front remains Boro boss Gareth Southgate's priority.

After agreeing a deal to sign Afonso Alves, the Brazilian's compatriot Fred is also on Southgate's wish list.

O'Neil admits he knows little about either player but has welcomed Boro's ongoing attempts to bring in fresh attacking options.

"I haven't seen much of Alves or Fred and I don't know much about them," said the 24-year-old. "I've heard they are decent players but names are always thrown around - you never know if it's concrete or whether they are just rumours so we will see.

"I think we need a striker, whether it's Mido getting fit or bringing someone in we need another option definitely.

"The two lads that are working out there at the moment (Tuncay and Jeremie Aliadiere) are giving everything that they've got but they do need someone else to give them a hand.

"Whether it's one of the lads coming back fit or bringing someone in we do definitely need another one. …

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