Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Downing in Line for Recall as Deal Signed

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Downing in Line for Recall as Deal Signed

Article excerpt

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

STEWART Downing is in line for his first league start of 2019 tonight after signing a new deal with Middlesbrough.

The 34-year-old winger has been in first team limbo since it emerged that if he started one more Championship game before the end of the current campaign he would automatically receive a one-season contract extension.

But Downing, who is tipped to return to the starting line up for the vital visit of Bristol City, has now waived his right to that extra year and agreed to new terms that allow him to play this season after which he becomes a free agent.

That means the Middlesbroughborn midfielder will, in all likelihood, leave his hometown club in the summer.

Glasgow giants Rangers have already been strongly linked with the former England international, who shared a Liverpool and Three Lions dressing room with Gers boss Steven Gerrard.

Downing's most recent Championship start came in the 2-0 home win over Ipswich Town on December 29 and he has since been used as an impact sub.

His availability will come as boost to Tony Pulis, who is a fan of Downing and has been hoping a compromise could be thrashed out enabling him to be selected in the starting line-up.

Speaking about the contract impasse in January, Pulis said: "Stewart has got a great personality around this place. This week, the way he's trained, worked, performed, has been testament to him as a professional footballer and a human being.

"Stewart has been brilliant. I know the situation, he knows the situation.

It's one that has to be resolved between him and the football club.

"It's something that was done before I came here but that's Stewart and the club, but as a person on the training ground and in the dressing room he's fantastic. …

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