No Portsmouth future - but Blues boss has sympathy for 'outstanding professional' and ex-Blackburn man after injury-wrecked fresh start

It was a loan spell designed to put him in the shop window ahead of an impending Fratton Park release.

Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 11:00 am

Instead Paul Downing continues to be dogged by the injury issues which blighted his Pompey stay.

And Danny Cowley has every sympathy for the 30-year-old he describes as ‘an outstanding professional’.

A groin problem has sidelined the centre-half for Rochdale’s last nine League Two matches.

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Despite a bright entrance, consisting of five successive starts, he has once more succumbed to misfortune.

A succession of set-backs have rained down on Downing since recruited by Kenny Jackett from Blackburn in the summer of 2019.

He has subsequently totalled just 32 appearances in almost three seasons.

Having recently returned to training, the former Walsall man could make his comeback against Mansfield this evening (7.45pm) after six weeks out.

Pompey loanee Paul Downing has missed Rochdale's last nine matches through injury. Picture: Dennis Goodwin/ProSportsImages

Rochdale are presently 19th, without fears of relegation and residing nine points clear of a bottom two which contains Oldham and Scunthorpe.

Yet while their future is assured, Downing potentially has 10 remaining games to catch the eye as he seeks a new home at the end of his Pompey contract.

Cowley told The News: ‘I know Paul started his time at Rochdale well and unfortunately for him just picked up a little knock. Hopefully he’ll be back soon.

‘It has not been easy for Paul, which is such a shame because he is such an outstanding professional.

‘He’s somebody who does everything to the letter, does everything properly, everything to the best of his ability - and he deserves a rhythm and a run of games.

‘Unfortunately if you are looking for fairness, football is probably the wrong place to look.

‘We wish him nothing but success, we know this is an important period for him and knew it was important that he played.

‘He’s out of contract in the summer, so it’s important he finds a run of games and a rhythm of games so he puts himself in a good place for whatever comes next in his career.’

Downing has made four appearances for Pompey this season, including one minute of League One action.

He moved to Rochdale in January for the remainder of the season, taking him up to the end of his Fratton Park deal.

During his time on the south coast, he has featured his 11 times in League One for the Blues.

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