Doncaster boss reveals former Portsmouth target Paul Downing speaking to several League One clubs with Blues keen on a centre-back

Doncaster boss Grant McCann has revealed ex-Pompey target Paul Downing has met with other League One clubs as he weighs up his future.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 1:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th May 2019, 10:06 am
Paul Downing battles Michy Batshuayi for the ball during Doncaster's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Crystal Palace. Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Donny are keen to retain the centre-back but he has suitors elsewhere in the division following his release from Blackburn.

The Blues kept tabs on Downing in January but he spent the second half of last season on loan at the Keepmoat Stadium.

The 27-year-old made 22 appearances for Doncaster as they suffered penalty shootout heartbreak to Charlton in the play-off semi-final. 

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Paul Downing battles Michy Batshuayi for the ball during Doncaster's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Crystal Palace. Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Downing’s contract at Ewood Park was not renewed, though, meaning he’s a free agent.

Kenny Jackett has a centre-half high on his shopping list this summer with Jack Whatmough sidelined until the new year. 

That could well turn to two, though, with prized asset Matt Clarke set to depart. 

Tom Lockyer is a target, although Downing – who has a League One promotion on his resume – would also fit the bill.

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McCann is optimistic the 27-year-old will remain at Donny but admits the defender has discussed terms with other third-tier clubs.

The Keepmoat boss told the Doncaster Free Press: ‘There is a chance (of securing a deal). 

‘I'm speaking to his agent quite regularly.

‘Paul has met with a couple of other clubs in this league but he is really keen on coming to us.

‘Paul is away for the next two weeks and we'll touch base with him and his representatives when he comes back.’

Downing helped Blackburn to the Championship in 2017-18, while he reached the play-offs with Walsall in 2016. 

Following his departure, Ewood Park boss Tony Mowbray labeled the former MK Dons man a ‘fantastic character.’

He said: ‘He did the job we wanted him to do.

‘He was a fantastic character around our team and around our club. He helped us get out of League One.

‘He wanted to go and play football and wasn’t getting enough game-time with us so he moved on.”

‘He did very well at Doncaster, helped them get to the play-offs and he’s free to go and find himself a new club.’