Downing to hand in transfer request

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Middlesbrough's resolve to hang on to midfielder Stewart Downing will be tested to the full on Monday when he hands in a written transfer request.

It is understood the 24-year-old will ask to leave his home town club following strong interest from Tottenham.

Boro chief executive Keith Lamb has already dismissed a bid - thought to be in the region of £6million - from the White Hart Lane outfit as "derisory", while manager Gareth Southgate has repeatedly insisted the England international is simply not for sale.

However, Downing's decision to submit a transfer request could force their hand with Southgate admitting when striker Ayegbeni Yakubu made it clear his future lay away from the Riverside Stadium that there was no point in hanging on to players who did not want to be there.

The manager is under no pressure to sell, although he had made no secret of the fact that he will have to raise his own funds if he wants to buy this month.

Boro value Downing at closer to the £15million mark but it remains to be seen whether or not Spurs, who have been admirers for several years, are prepared to go to anywhere near what would be a record transfer fee received by the Teessiders.

Downing signed a new five-year contract on February last year, but it is understood he has become increasingly unsettled in recent months and is now ready to test himself away from the club where he has become the highest-profile graduate of a productive academy.

The local boy has won 21 senior England caps to date, the last of them in the 2-1 win over Germany in Berlin in November, a game which earned him impressive reviews.

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Tottenham Hotspur
Ayegbeni Yakubu
Stewart Downing
Gareth Southgate

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