BORO TO REACH FOR THE SUM­MIT

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Clive Hether­ing­ton

STEWART DOWN­ING has tipped Adam Reach to star in Mid­dles­brough’s re­newed pro­mo­tion push.

Reach, 22, is a left winger – like Down­ing was in his first spell with Boro.

The Eng­land man, 31, re­turned to his roots this sum­mer in a £5.5mil­lion move from West Ham.

And Down­ing, set to op­er­ate in a ‘No. 10’ role un­der Boro boss Ai­tor Karanka, wants to help Reach make the most of his po­ten­tial.

Down­ing said: “He could be a big player for us this sea­son. There aren’t that many left-foot­ers around and if we can get Reachy in the form he showed at the start of last sea­son, we have a real tal­ent.

“Wingers have to make things hap­pen and some­times they will lose the ball, but on another day they will set up two or three goals.”

Karanka’s side missed out on pro­mo­tion in May, los­ing to Nor­wich in the play-off fi­nal at Wem­b­ley.

And as they pre­pare to kick off their Cham­pi­onship cam­paign at Pre­ston to­day, Down­ing ad­mits: “There’s a bit of un­fin­ished busi­ness for me.

“Be­fore I left in 2009, I broke my foot in the last home game of the sea­son and then we got rel­e­gated. I would have liked to have kept the club in the Premier League.

“This club has been very good to me, from the academy through to the first team and the chair­man, Steve Gib­son, who has brought me back.’’

MID­DLES­BROUGH kick off their sea­son to­day as one of the favourites for pro­mo­tion – and de­fender To­mas Kalas ad­mits that will bring with it a new kind of pres­sure.

Kalas – who has re­joined the club on a sea­son-long loan deal from Chelsea af­ter a suc­cess­ful spell dur­ing the sec­ond half of last term – saw his team-mates slip to de­feat at Wem­b­ley in the play-off fi­nal last sea­son.

But af­ter a sum­mer of smart busi­ness that saw Stewart Down­ing re­join the club, Uruguayan striker Chris­tian Stu­ani ar­rive and with Jor­dan Rhodes ru­mours re­fus­ing to go away, Ai­tor Karanka’s troops are many peo­ple’s tips for the top.

And a trip to pro­moted Pre­ston, who only lost once at Deep­dale in League One last sea­son, will be a good early test of their ti­tle cre­den­tials.

“Maybe no­body ex­pected us to be up there last sea­son and there was less pres­sure,” said the Czech, 22. “But now ev­ery­one ex­pects a re­ally good sea­son, so it will be slightly dif­fer­ent. Hope­fully no­body will care about the pres­sure and we will play at least how we did last sea­son.

“If I had been pro­moted and was play­ing the first game against Mid­dles­brough, who al­most made the Premier League, I’d be mo­ti­vated – and we have to be ready for that at Pre­ston.

“They will be ready to beat us, so hope­fully we’ll be ready as well and can show our qual­ity.”

The ma­jor­ity of the Pre­ston squad, who were boosted by top scorer Joe Garner’s de­ci­sion to ink a new deal, have ex­pe­ri­enced the Cham­pi­onship – but not Daniel John­son.

The midfielder, 22, said: “There will be peo­ple out there doubt­ing us and not ex­pect­ing us to do well, but we are con­fi­dent in our abil­i­ties and I think we can do well and prove ev­ery­one wrong.

“I watched Mid­dles­brough in a few games last sea­son and they looked like a good team.

“They have a lot of de­cent play­ers, but if we are at it and do what we know is best, we can come out with a de­cent re­sult.”

PRAISE: Stewart Down­ing

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