The Return Of Downing
The one real highlight from today was seeing Stewart Downing finally get back on the pitch, and he didn't do too badly at all all things given.
Very few, if any of us, were expecting to see the former Boro man on the bench - in fact much confusion and hilarity occurred on the match thread in the forum when it discovered (you had to be there) - however he did indeed replace a booked Steve Sidwell and get just over 20 minutes on the pitch today.
Speaking on the official site Monny conceded it'll be a few weeks yet before Downing is fully match fit and able to play 90 minutes but described it as a 'big plus' that he was now able to play some part in games and attempt to get back some form after Petrov crocked him in our match against Boro last season.
'In terms of real match fitness, he is a bit of a distance away from that.
'I think if he stays clear of injury we'll see the best of him from Christmas onwards.'
It does open up interesting options for us, many fans are torn on Petrov, NRC, Sidders. Until the mental right back shenanigans again Milner being able to come into the middle to give us a bit more thrust through the centre of the pitch did look promising - also equally at points Ash ended up in the middle so you did wonder who was meant to be where.
But the potential for Milner's drive and the flexibility to move Ash around the pitch properly shouldn't be sneered at. If nothing else a fit Downing will allow Ash to be taken out of the fray every now and then when things aren't working for him which can only benefit us.