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Bruce Told to Back Off in Downing Bid

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has been told to look elsewhere for transfer targets after Aston Villa rebuffed an approach for leading league goalscorer Stewart Downing. The winger has had an impressive season this time around, putting a difficult start to his Villa career through injury and inconsistency behind him to become one of the sides most constant performers this term. The former-Middlesbrough man is the only of Villa’s outfield squad to have featured in every league game this season and is regarded by manager Gerard Houllier as one of the first names on the team sheet. Having scored 5 league goals, 6 in total, Downing has attracted interest from a number of clubs and it now seems that Sunderland made a formal offer. However, Villa have insisted that Downing is going nowhere and have informed Bruce to look elsewhere for a winger which appears to have switched his attentions to previous Villa target Charles N’Zogbia. Good to see the manager trying to protect his assets and it’s clear that the Frenchman knows who is and indeed isn’t in his future plans. How do you rate Downing’s season so far? One of Villa’s best this season but is that down to poor form from his team-mates?

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