‘Leader’ Ben Gibson can make England step-up

Ben Gibson makes a challenge against Bournemouth
Ben Gibson makes a challenge against Bournemouth

Stewart Downing believes Middlesbrough team-mate Ben Gibson deserves an England call-up.

Gibson has been tipped to be part of Gareth Southgate’s next senior squad, having played under the caretaker Three Lions boss for the Under-21s, forming a centre-back pairing with John Stones.

Southgate was at the Riverside Stadium for Middlesbrough’s meeting with Bournemouth on Saturday as Gibson helped Boro make it back-to-back clean sheets.

“It’s not often you get an England manager at the Riverside to be honest,” said Downing, who won 35 caps for England and played in the 2006 World Cup.

“Gareth will know Ben very well because he’s worked with him closely with the England U21s for a couple of years now.

“Gareth knows him better than anyone. He will know Ben just keeps improving and these last couple of clean sheets will have done him no harm at all.

“No doubt he will pick him if he deserves it on form.

“Gareth has shown he is not bothered about who they play for already – he goes on form, like when he didn’t pick Wayne Rooney. I don’t think he will be afraid.

“He’s got the character, no question. He is vocal. He is a leader. He has been captain here a few times already.

“He knows the game and his performances have been really good, and even though we haven’t got results at times his game has been bang on.

“That’s all he can do. Gareth has worked with him, he knows his qualities, so no doubt he will pick him if he deserves it.”