Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Matchwinner Downing 'Is Just Fab'

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Matchwinner Downing 'Is Just Fab'

Article excerpt

Byline: PHILIP TALLENTIRE philip.tallentire@trinitymirror.com @PTALLENTIREGAZ

MIDDLESBROUGH'S FA Cup matchwinner Stewart Downing is a "fantastic player" according to teammate Fabio da Silva.

It took a superb strike from Downing to settle a tight, tense FA Cup fourth round tie against Accrington Stanley on Saturday.

And, having played against the 32-year-old Teessider in the Premier League and on the Rockliffe Park training ground, Fabio is a huge admirer of his team-mate.

"It was a fantastic goal," he said. "It was a good strike.

"He is very important to the team, he is very experienced. I think I played against him eight years ago so he's experienced and, of course, important for the team."

Downing has found Boro starts hard to come by in recent weeks and his future at the club has been speculated about during the current transfer window.

But he was arguably man of the match against Stanley and The Gazette understands he plans to stay and fight for his place.

Fabio believes Downing could have an important role to play for Boro in the coming fixtures.

"He'll be needed, not just on the pitch but in the dressing room and on the training ground, so he's a very important and experienced player for us," he said.

"Of course everyone in the squad wants to show the manager what they can do and to be in the team.

"This squad is so good and it's always good for the team to have this competition (for places)."

Fabio believes Downing's match intelligence makes him a very difficult player to subdue although his game has changed as he's got older.

"He's 32 so he will have lost a little bit of pace but he compensates with the other skills he has and he's still a great player," said the Brazilian. …

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