Downing ready for final challenge

17 July 2015 09:10:33 UK

Stewart Downing hopes he can help Middlesbrough return to the Premier League after completing his switch to Aitor Karanka's side from West Ham United.

Boro were relegated to the Championship in 2009 and came close to returning to the top-flight last season only to be beaten in the play-off final at Wembley by Norwich City in May.

Downing enjoyed a fine 2014/15 season with the Hammers and earned a recall to the England squad, playing in the friendly international against Scotland in November.

Downing said when asked why he had returned to Teesside: "It's a new challenge. I had opportunities to join clubs in the Premier League but, in fairness, they weren't offering me anything different in terms of a challenge to West Ham.

At Boro there's a chance to achieve something really special.

Stewart Downing

"If I had stayed at West Ham, the aim would be to try and push into the top half of the table. Last season went pretty well for the club and we finished 12th, next season the aim will be to improve on that.

"Had I gone to another Premier League club from West Ham, the targets would be similar. But at Boro there's a chance to achieve something really special."

Downing left Boro to join Aston Villa six years go in a £12million deal before moving to Liverpool in 2011. He spent two years at Anfield before joining West Ham.

Middlesbrough can be backed at 1/1 to be promoted from the Championship in the 2015/16 season and at 1/1 to win their opening game of the season on Sunday 9th August against Preston North End.

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