Stewart Downing reveals Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis' message to 'top, top player' Dael Fry
Stewart Downing believes promising Middlesbrough defender Dael Fry is a "top, top player" with a huge future ahead of him.
The versatile 21-year-old England Under-21 international has become a key member of Pulis' defence, making a total of 13 appearances for the club this season.
His vastly experienced teammate Downing knows a player when he sees one and he has tipped the youngster for a big future.
The centre-back is also comfortable at right-back and his versatility has proved key for Pulis this campaign, the Boro boss a big supporter.
“Dael will be a top, top player," said Downing.
“When you’re younger it is hard to break into a team, especially with the lads we have at centre-half at this club.
“You might be moved around a bit and played at right-back like he has. He can also play in the three at the back and playing in different positions can only add to his game.
“You never know when or where he might be needed but whatever is asked, and he just slots in."
Championship Boro don't have a game this weekend due to the international break.
Downing added: "He’s a really good footballer. He reads the game well, he is comfortable in possession, he’s strong, he can pass it. He can play anywhere. He could probably play in midfield if he was asked to. He did that in pre-season and didn’t look out of place.
“And you can see he is a good full-back too. He’s good on the ball, he carries it forward well and I think he probably surprised himself with some of his crosses.
“The manager keeps telling him all the time: ‘Dael, you’ve got to believe in yourself because you’re a top player’.
“I agree with that. He’s a quiet lad, he gets his head down and gets on with it. I think he’s going to be a top player," he told the Evening Gazette.
Fry has spoken previously about his ambitions to follow in the footsteps of Ben Gibson, while also revealing Jonathan Woodgate’s key role in his development.