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A good start to my life as a Rover

We caught up with Stewart Downing, who has had a happy first month in East Lancashire...

22 July 2019

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It's been a month since Stewart Downing arrived in East Lancashire, and on the day he turns 35, the winger admits he's enjoyed the first few weeks as a Rovers player.

The experienced flanker, who can play anywhere down the left side and in central midfield, arrived on a free transfer after departing Middlesbrough.

The former England international linked up with a number of former team-mates at Ewood Park when he made the switch and has featured pretty heavily in pre-season so far.

So how have things gone for the ex-Liverpool and Aston Villa man?

“I’ve found the first few weeks at Rovers to be very enjoyable, but also very tough," he revealed to iFollow Rovers.

“I’ve settled in really quickly and it helped knowing a few of the lads before coming here. The manager has been spot on with me and it’s gone very well so far.

“I’m enjoying things and hopefully that will carry on throughout the season.

“I sensed the camaraderie straight away when I first came in. The manager is big on the team being together and that’s what you need. You need lads to back the team, even when they aren’t playing.

“The manager is right in amongst it as well, which is great.

“In this division you need that camaraderie because there will be times when you have three games in a week and the manager has decisions to make."

As someone who has played all his career in the top two divisions in English football, Downing adds that the whole squad will need to be utilised throughout the upcoming Championship campaign.

“Rotating the squad at times this season will be required, there's no doubting that," he said.

"Last season we had a lot of young players, very good players, and I think the squad is looking very strong already, and that’s without further additions.

“The first couple of weeks you get that base fitness. As the games tick on you up things. With two weeks to go until the opening day of the season there’s some real competition.

“It’s a long, long season and we’ll need everybody. The boss has voiced that to all the lads. Just because you’re not playing in pre-season at the moment doesn’t mean you’re not in the plans."

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