Paul pleased with progress...THE EMERGANCE of Paul Downing on the first-team stage was one of the real successes of last season.
The accomplished central defender joined the club from West Bromwich Albion in August and having found himself used on just a handful of occasions throughout the first half of the campaign, he then came into the side in mid-December and never looked back.
His displays really caught the eye and saw him earn a new deal in February.
“It was a very good season all round,” he said. “The team had a blip during the Autumn, but to finish the way we did and challenge for the play-offs right up until the last but one game was fantastic.
“To be part of it was a great experience and thoroughly enjoyable. The team spirit here is second-to-none and working under Dean Smith has really helped me.
“Being a former centre half himself, he does a lot of work with the back four and is always on hand with good tips and advice. Similarly Andy Butler has also been a massive help to me and between them they have really brought my game on.
“This is a great place to be and to have the nucleus of the team already signed up means that we can all look forward to getting down to work when pre-season training starts next month.
“If we can add a bit of quality here and there, we’ll be able to give it a good go next season. We know that it’s going to be another fiercely competitive League with some big clubs and big budgets, but we have proved what we are capable of.
“There will also be some interesting local derbies and hopefully we’ll get some big crowds here at Banks’s Stadium to see us really push on.”
Downing has been following the summer training programme set out by Jon Whitney. “I’ve been sticking to Whitters’ schedule and also going along to the gym,” he went on. “I’ve also made time to get away and relax, which has been mentally refreshing, so I’ll be ready to go when pre-season training starts towards the end of June.”