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Downing goes under the knife as Middlesbrough eye great escape
Published : 22 May 2009 15:51:04
Stewart Downing will have an operation on his broken foot today and is expected to miss pre-season. The Middlesbrough winger needs surgery after Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov stood on his foot during last Saturday's 1-1 draw at The Riverside. Downing misses Sunday's visit to West Ham where Middlesbrough need a win and a miracle elsewhere to avoid the drop. His injury also means a summer move to Liverpool or Tottenham is on hold. Boro boss Gareth Southgate confirmed Downing will have a pin inserted in his foot and said: 'It's impossible to know how long he will be out. I would think he is unlikely to be available for the start of pre-season and everything else depends on how complex the operation is. 'In the long term there is no issue. It is a more common injury and surgery is very good so there is no long-term concern.' Southgate has Gary O'Neil and David Wheater available despite injury and Wheater needing summer surgery on a cartilage tear. And former England defender Southgate has no problem with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's team selection at Hull City on Sunday. The Tigers have a four-goal advantage on Boro so a United rout would help the Teessiders with three points between the sides. Southgate added: 'I would expect Sir Alex to pick a team that gives him the best chance of winning the Champions League (on Wednesday) and we are in the position we are in because of what has gone on over 37 games. 'I would expect the manager to pick the team for the best of his club.'