'Staying at Boro will help Downing,' says Pogatetz

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The Independent Football

The Middlesbrough captain, Emanuel Pogatetz, is convinced winger Stewart Downing can attract the interest of top-four clubs by staying at the Riverside.

Downing turned in a fine individual display for his home-town 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. The Middlesbrough manager, Gareth Southgate, has insisted that Downing would continue to give his all to the club, until at least the end of the season.

Pogatetz is equally confident the winger will continue his development on Teesside and will eventually establish himself as a player who could grace the upper reaches of the Premier League. "I think that he can still develop as a player here who can play for a top-four club in the future," Pogatetz said. "That must be his target because he is definitely good enough to do that.

"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."

Pogatetz added: "The last three games were a big improvement in terms of team spirit. We showed togetherness and there was a better attitude from every player."