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4 June 2014

Central defender comes of age...

PAUL Downing knows that patience is the key at this stage of the summer as we look to strengthen the squad in readiness for the challenges that lie ahead during the course of the 2014/15 campaign.

“We’ve lost a few lads in key areas, so it’s going to be an interesting summer,” he admitted. “It’s a case of being patient and seeing what happens. The Gaffer knows what he wants and what he has to do to get it.

“There is a good core of players already here, so with a few additions we’ll be ready to go again. Also we’ll be looking for some of the younger lads to start to emerge on the first-team stage.”

Following the departure of Andy Butler, Downing will have a new partner alongside him in the heart of the back-line.

“Like everyone else, I was sad to see ‘Buts’ go,” he added. “I became good friends with him off-the-field as well as on it but I totally understand his reasons for wanting to be closer to his family.

“He has served the club well and been loyal and I think that the fans accept his reasons for wanting to find a club nearer his home.

“It means that I will have someone new alongside me and I am looking forward to building that relationship.

“We’re quite a young squad but it’s time for the lads who have played a lot of games, like myself and Sam Mantom, to step up and lead by example.

“I’m still only young myself at 22, but I feel that I’ve got it in me to help people improve and be more of a vocal presence.

“I’m getting better and will be looking to take this progress into next season.

“The aim has to be to make it third time lucky and get into the play-offs. The League will provide us with a good challenge, but one that I feel we are more than capable of rising to.

“We want to put in a good foundation and then ensure that we don’t peter away like we did last season. Hopefully we can learn from last year and push on from there.”

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