Liam Hoden, sports reporter with the Doncaster Free Press, delivers his verdict on Pompey target Paul Downing...
Paul Downing will be a good signing for anybody at the top end of League One – and there will be plenty at Doncaster disappointed should he go elsewhere.
Grant McCann recruited the 27-year-old on loan from Blackburn in January, with Joe Wright sidelined through injury.
Initially he arrived as a back-up, strengthening a good centre-half pool consisting of Wright, Tom Anderson and Andy Butler, yet emerged as the best of the lot.
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Downing made that position his own and, when once ruled out through illness for a game, came straight back into the team.
He is a very, very good defender and can probably play the division above. I know there are Blackburn supporters who were baffled why he was allowed to leave for Doncaster on loan.
Downing played a big part in their 2017-18 promotion from League One and a lot of supporters seemed to rate him, judging by the reaction when he came to the Keepmoat Stadium.
He’s commanding, physical, calm and can bring the ball out from the back and start an attack. Anything which comes in his direction, he clears with the minimum of fuss.
I can also recall McCann saying he would be capable of playing as a left-sided central defender, despite being right footed.
He's a steady lad, gets on with it, people seem to like him and he got on well with those in the Keepmoat dressing room and around the club.
Naturally, now he is a free agent, Doncaster want to sign Downing permanently and have made him an offer.
As I understand it, he is presently on holiday, so McCann has parked it for the moment and they don’t expect any real progress for a time.
Initially, Doncaster’s boss was quite confident of capturing the defender, then he wasn’t, then he said he was more confident.
However, judging from McCann’s comments earlier in the week about another club tabling a huge contract offer, he knows it’s very unlikely he will pull off this deal.