Karanka open to Downing exit, urges Gibson focus amid Chelsea talk

The Middlesbrough boss will not stand in the way of the experienced midfielder leaving the Riverside for potential relegation rivals Crystal Palace

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka is happy for Stewart Downing to leave the club during the transfer window if a deal can be struck to satisfy all parties.

Former England player Downing, who is in his second spell with his hometown club, has been heavily linked with a move to Crystal Palace and a reunion with Sam Allardyce, who managed him at West Ham.

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Despite Karanka being open to the 32-year-old moving on, he could still feature when Boro travel to Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.

"I said always [there is] a player who wants to leave, I am always trying to buy a player, to sell a player, to bring in a player on loan or sell," he told a pre-match news conference.

"If Stewart wants to leave and everybody is happy, yes of course [he can go]."

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"If the club thinks it's good for the club and for the player, I can't say anything.

"The figures for Stewart since he's arrived here, I don't know how many games he's played, but I said at the start of the season how important he was.

"He played at Manchester United. Maybe he plays on Saturday."

One player Karanka is determined will not be distracted by transfer talk is Ben Gibson, after league leaders Chelsea were linked with a move for the 23-year-old defender at the end of the season.

"Gibbo is doing well because the team is doing really well. That has been the same for the last two seasons," he said.

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"He has a lot of potential, and a lot of people are speaking about him. But he's from our academy, he's our player.

"He must keep focused on his football because to do anything else would be a mistake."