The current situation between Middlesbrough and former England international Stuart Downing has placed Boro manager Tony Pulis in a somewhat sticky situation.
34-year-old Downing, who earned 35 caps for England, has been at Teessiders Middlesbrough since a £7m transfer in mid-July 2015. During that time, the predominantly left-sided midfielder has made 388 appearances for Boro.
Those 388 appearances have brought 31 goals and 49 assists; it is a figure that also includes 336 starts for the club. However, in words from Pulis, carried by TeesideLive, Downing is embroiled in a situation where he’ll not get another.
The cause of that is a contract clause that states Downing will receive an automatic one-year contract extension should he start one more game for Boro.
With the threshold reached, should he not extend his deal at the Riverside, Downing will be able to exit the club on a free transfer. Despite this, Downing can still be played from the bench without the clause becoming activated.
Pulis, whose hands are tied in this particular situation, admits that the situation isn’t ideal, something that he conveyed in words as carried by TeessideLive. On the matter he said: “It’s a situation that is not good for anybody. That’s an issue the club have got with Stewart and that’s ongoing. If you look at the big picture, then you just hope it gets resolved for everybody’s sake.”
Pulis has rubbished the idea that some are saying should happen, that Pulis should pull a ‘tactical substitution’ switch to get Downing on the field. On this, Pulis said: “If someone got injured after two minutes, then I’d bring Stewart on then. I did (bring on Downing) the other day at Sheffield United – he came on after 25 minutes or so. If it’s there to be done, we’ll do it.”
At the moment, it’s all out of Tony Pulis’ hands and in those of the club’s hierarchy. Until an agreement is sorted between player and club, it looks like Stewart Downing has made his last start for Boro.