Remember him? Back after 19 months - how Danny Cowley believes 'outstanding' Paul Downing can boost Portsmouth

After an absence of 589 days, Paul Downing returned to League One action.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 6:30 am
Paul Downing was granted his first league appearance since September 2019 in Pompey's 3-3 draw at Accrington. Picture: Dennis Goodwin/ProSportsImages

And Danny Cowley is convinced the ‘outstanding’ central defender can bolster a Blues side which has worryingly conceded six goals in three matches.

Not since September 17, 2019, had Downing featured for Pompey in league competition.

However, Cowley called upon the former Blackburn man’s services from the bench in the 61st minute at Accrington, replacing Callum Johnson in a back three.

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The outcome was a 3-3 draw, with Stanley levelling five minutes into time added on.

Yet despite that disappointment, the re-emergence of Downing represents a positive for Cowley as he seeks to clinch a play-off place.

He told The News: ‘When I was at Lincoln, we played Blackburn every summer in pre-season and I know he’s a good player.

‘Against Accrington, Paul got the ball down and did what Paul Downing is good at, I want him to do what has made him an outstanding player for so long.

‘Maybe he was trying to play another way (under Kenny Jackett), another style for another manager, sometimes it happens.

‘He’s such a compliant, honest professional, but maybe that was the error in his ways.

‘He’s a strong professional, a strong man, I don't think he needs a cuddle from me. We’ve had a good conversation and I want him to do what he does well.

‘I think he can organize our defensive line, he can talk really well. In terms of his distribution, he can make really good decisions and good executions.

‘There’s loads to Paul Downing’s game which we really like.’

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Downing fell out of favour under Jackett within months of recruiting him on a three-year contract from Blackburn.

Following a 2-2 draw with Burton in September 2019, Downing feature fleetingly, totalling 11 more appearances, all of which arrived in cup competitions.

However, the 29-year-old is back in the first-team frame, making the Blues’ last four squads.

And on Tuesday night he returned to league action – earning praise from Pompey’s head coach.

Cowley added: ‘We were in a situation where we had so many players going down and were struggling physically out there.

‘I didn’t want to put Tom Naylor on the right of the back three and it doesn’t quite suit Sean to play in that position, even though Sean’s honest and will do his best.

‘In his first game back, Paul was exposed to Dion Charles and Sean McConville on this side (of the pitch), so it was tough for him.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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