Stewart Downing has revealed he is willing to play through the pain barrier in a bid to earn an instant recall to Middlesbrough’s first team.
The club’s big summer signing from West Ham United was surprisingly dropped from Aitor Karanka’s starting line-up for the trip to Wolves at the weekend.
But he made his point after coming on as a second-half sub, turning the game on its head as Boro came from behind to win 3-1, with Downing netting a classy third goal in added-on time.
Downing has since revealed that he may be nursing broken ribs.
But the 31-year-old is hoping to be involved in Middlesbrough’s trip to Manchester United tomorrownight in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.
“I took a whack in the ribs at Cardiff,” revealed Downing.
“I’m not sure if there is a break there or not, but I’m told there is nothing you can do, so I just decided to get on with it.
“Sod’s law, I took a whack soon after I came on against Wolves, but I’m glad to have played my part. We have to keep in the mix.
“It was a perfect time to score, but more pleasing to win, for long periods it looked as though it wasn’t going to happen.”
Downing said it was pleasing to see the goals shared around the team but admits Boro need to “sharpen up” as they look to win promotion to the Premier League.
He added: “We needed that cushion at the end as Wolves had a couple of chances, but I think that was down to our sloppiness.
“Sometimes it seems everyone expects us to win every game three or four nil, it’s a bit difficult to do that!”
Ahead of the Manchester United clash, Karanka has moved to bolster his central midfield options with the loan signing of Bruno Zuculini from Manchester City.
The Championship club have signed the 22-year-old, who has previously been linked with Sunderland, on a month-long loan deal.
Former Black Cats midfielder Grant Leadbitter and Adam Clayton are just one more booking away from suspension, while Adam Forshaw was sidelined for the weekend win at Molineux.
The ex-Argentinian Under-20 cap completed his move yesterday.Zuculini started his career at Racing Club before joining City in 2014. He has had loans at Valencia and Cordoba.
Harry Chapman, Robbie Tinkler, Andre Bennett and Bradley Fewster netted as Boro secured a first U21 win of the season last night, beating Leicester 4-0 at Victoria Park.