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Southgate stands by Downing
22 Sep 2008 - 12:47:46
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate has voiced his support for Stewart Downing, who missed a penalty in the 2-0 weekend defeat at Sunderland.
The 24-year-old England international fired his spot-kick over the crossbar 16 minutes from time at the Stadium of Light, having also missed from 12 yards in the 2-1 win over Stoke City earlier this season.
Southgate told The Gazette: "He's a 24-year-old boy, he's still a fantastically talented player and one that we'll continue to work with and get the best from.
"He's well in credit with us, he's won us so many matches through his goals and his assists.
"Yes, that moment might have won the game because the whole emotion of the stadium changed then.
"But the kid's been fantastic for us for a number of years now. He's a joy to work with and we've got to pick him up by making him realise how important he is to us.
"He was playing extremely well up to that point and the games he's won for us through his goals or his creativity far outweigh what happened at Sunderland.
"That one kick doesn't mean he's a poor player or that he has had a poor game. It's the brightest he's been for me in the last few weeks and he's got to step on."