Stewart Downing right to stay at Middlesbrough says Emanuel Pogatetz

13 January 2009 08:52
The 24-year-old winger turned in a fine individual display for his hometown club in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Sunderland, at the end of a week during which he had a transfer request refused amid a concerted effort by Tottenham to sign him.

Boro issued the latest in a series of hands-off messages over their England international and several other senior players as they attempted to fend off approaches.

Manager Gareth Southgate insisted in the wake of last week's drama at the Riverside that Downing would continue to give his all to the club, until at least the end of the season.

Captain Pogatetz is equally confident the winger will continue his development on Teesside and eventually play for one of the top sides in the Barclays Premier League.

He said: "I think that Stewie can still develop as a player here who can play for a top-four club in the future. He is definitely good enough to do that."

Boro decided Downing, Gary O'Neil and Tuncay Sanli were not for sale regardless of what offers might come their way because of their parlous League position and the difficulty they would have had in replacing them.

They have not won in nine Premier League games, although a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United was followed by an FA Cup third-round victory over non-League Barrow and the draw with Sunderland, a run which has lifted spirits.

Downing has played a full part in that recovery, and his captain admits he was always confident he would not turn his back on the club in its hour of need.

He said: "Stewart knows that we all wanted him to stay and he showed with the goal that he set up for Afonso Alves that he can be the difference for us. I always knew that he wouldn't leave deep down because he is a local lad and with the situation we are in, I was convinced that he would help us get out of it.

"I think it was a great performance from him."

Boro head for bottom-of-the-table West Bromwich on Saturday desperate for revenge after losing 1-0 to them on Teesside in September.

But Pogatetz is hopeful that a marked improvement is only just around the corner.

He said: "I'm really convinced that we are heading in the right direction and it will turn around quite soon."

Source: Telegraph

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