Club News

Downing plays down Berahino hype

Joint No.2 gives his take on England speculation surrounding striker

KEITH Downing has played down the hype surrounding Saido Berahino and reports linking him with a potential call up to the senior England squad for this month’s Wembley friendlies.

The Baggies’ joint-assistant boss, who also coached the 20-year-old striker at academy level, is delighted with his rise to prominence this season.

Roy Hodgson is set to name his squad tomorrow (Thursday) for the games against Chile on Friday 15 and Germany four days later.

And, while Downing admits it would be a proud moment for the club if Berahino made the list, he says it would be a major surprise.

“Any achievement like that would be fantastic for him, but whether they will do it, I have my doubts,” he said.

“I know people burst on the scene, but the national press had never heard of him a couple of months ago.

“Now they’re trying to make a story about a boy-wonder, but I think Roy will have a level-headedness about him and know how the lad works, and I’m sure will make a calculated judgement.

“It would be great for the boy to have recognition - but is it feasible? I have my doubts about it.”

Meanwhile, Downing insists 32-year-old Steven Reid is in good shape to replace the injured Billy Jones (hamstring) at right-back against Chelsea on Saturday (ko 3pm) - for what would be his first Barclays Premier League appearance of the campaign.

“Reidy’s ready to go," he added.

“That’s why we gave him another year on his contract.

“Billy’s done ever so well.

“It’s a shame because he’s been part of the success of recent times – but Reidy’s a great pro.

“One of the main reasons, aside from his ability, to give him another year is because he’s an influence in the dressing room.

“He’s a good leader around the group.

“He’s a sensible man.

“He realises sometimes he can’t get in the squad.

“The squad has improved but he’s never stepped off the mark or been negative about anything, and he’s a good pro to have around the dressing room.

“If it was down to Steven he’d be out there training every day.

“The fact he isn't is down to medical people trying to manage it the best way for him, so he doesn’t have that element of risk.

“He trains three to four days a week – it’s not like we roll him out just for the games.

“He’s been ticking on nicely.”