Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

STEWIE AIMING TO HIT TOP GEAR; in Association With: MSV SPORT TEAMWEAR Winger Looks to Repeat Heroics

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

STEWIE AIMING TO HIT TOP GEAR; in Association With: MSV SPORT TEAMWEAR Winger Looks to Repeat Heroics

Article excerpt

Byline: By PHILIP TALLENTIRE

STEWART Downing admits his form has been "up and down" this season but is convinced he'll be firing on all cylinders sooner rather than later.

The England winger points to the example of last year, when he overcame a slow start to earn Player of the Year plaudits.

Downing, who had arguably his best game for Boro so far this season in Saturday's 1-1 draw with West Ham, scored a career best 10 goals last season but has yet to open his account this time around.

A return to his best form would be a timely boost for Gareth Southgate and the team.

Assessing both the club's and his own progress, Downing told the Gazette: "At the minute we're doing quite well.

"My own form has been up and down of late but I think that happens during a season, especially to wingers.

"Their form is up and down, they don't always play well.

"The same happened last season and I finished the season with 10 goals so that can happen again and hopefully it will."

There have been distractions for Downing over the past few months.

He was substituted by England manager Fabio Capello at half-time in the World Cup qualifier against Andorra and hasn't featured since, he's had a well-publicised falling out with his former agent Ian Elliott, which has yet to be resolved, and there was constant speculation about his Boro future during the transfer window.

Downing, however, refuses to look for excuses, though does reveal he feels he's not seeing as much of the ball as he did last season.

He said: "Off-field things never bother me, criticism from fans or the media doesn't really affect me.

"Wingers have got to be used and be given the ball and sometimes you don't always get the ball as much as you would like and you've got to dig in for the team.

"I think that's happened quite a lot this season.

"We're playing a slightly different style of play this season.

"Last season we were quite an attacking unit, Rochemback and players like that would push on, but this season we are looking a little more solid and we're maybe just getting used to that. …

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