'Downing set to start tonight as Boro host Bristol City'
Boro have reached an agreement with Stewart Downing over the bizarre clause in his contract which had forced Tony Pulis not to start the winger.
The Middlesbrough midfielder has signed a deal that will give him the ability to start for Boro in the remaining games of the season, having failed to start a league game since December
Downing’s last start for Boro came in their 2-0 win over Ipswich before the turn of the year, after which he has been repeatedly used as a substitute by Pulis.
The former Liverpool winger had been an integral part of the Boro squad in the first half of the season, had been forced to start all of those games on the bench.
However, it wasn’t Downing’s form but a strange clause in his contract which had forced manager Tony Pulis to bench the winger.
The clause, which has now been omitted thanks to the agreement, stated that Downing would automatically get a one-year extension if he started one more game before the end of this season.
However, the clause has now been overcome and Pulis is free to select Downing when Boro host Bristol City tonight.
Furthermore, the compromised agreement hasn’t shut the door on a possible new deal for Downing, which means that the winger could sign a new deal with the club should both parties agree.
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Downing's availability has come at a crucial time for Boro, currently on a five-game winless streak. Pulis is hoping that Downing’s availability can inject new life into the team ahead of the closing stages of the Championship season.