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Here to help - Downing

Stewart's twin aim is to help Rovers mount a play-off push & guide the club's youngsters

23 June 2019

Stewart Downing says he has two main challenges in mind, after becoming Rovers' first summer signing.

The former Middlesbrough man, who has signed a one-year deal, hopes to help propel Rovers up the Championship table, as well as aid the development of the club's most promising young players.

Downing believes his new side should be targeting the play-off positions this season, given the quality within the squad, and he hopes to use his vast experience to mentor Rovers' rising stars.  

“I’m an experienced player, so maybe I can come in and help the younger players along the way and I’m quite excited about that," said the 34-year-old, who has played over 400 Premier League games.

“The manager stressed to me that he would like me to help out the younger players and that he would like a few more experienced players in, to complement a lot of the talented young players that he's already got.

"Not just to keep them on the straight and narrow, but to use the experience we've had throughout our careers to help them.

"They're only young lads, they've only come into the game in the last two or three years, if I can help in any way I'll certainly do that and hopefully on the pitch as well, which is the main thing.

“This year, I certainly think we should be pushing for the play-offs.

"The manager has got high standards and the target is certainly to be up there fighting for the play-off spots.

"I think everyone at the club wants to get promoted.

"There's a lot of young players who are ambitious and who want to do well.

"The manager is really ambitious and he plays football the right way, which I think will get you out of this division.

"Last year, I think they were a bit unlucky. They could probably have finished a little bit higher, but maybe that's where they needed that little bit more nous or experience, and I think that's what the manager is trying to do."

Downing helped Middlesbrough secure promotion to the Premier League in 2015-16, courtesy of a second-place finish, and he made 38 Championship appearances last season, as Boro narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs.

So the former England international is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead, but he is confident Rovers can compete.

"It is a tough league, especially when you are hitting those winter months and playing three games a week," he added.

"I think that's when teams come into their own. That's when you see the likes of Aston Villa, who started to hit a run and they had experienced players. You look at their squad and it was strong.

"I think that's what you need. It could be a big demand on the young lads, but if the squad gets bigger here, with some more experienced players mixed with youth, then I think we'll have a really good chance."

  • Don't forget, there's just a week to go to claim your own seat for 2019-20 Championship campaign. To buy or renew a Rovers Season Ticket, please click here.

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