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Keith Downing backed for West Brom job

Sport | Published:

Support was today growing for Keith Downing to become a genuine contender for the vacant Albion job.

Support is growing behind the scenes for Downing to succeed Pepe Mel and it is believed the long-serving Hawthorns coach would consider discussing the role with the hierarchy.

Albion last night confirmed Terry Burton as their new technical director with Richard Garlick moved aside into a new administrative role.

And one of Burton's first tasks will be to sound out Downing about his intentions.

Downing ruled himself out of the running for the permanent role during his month-long stint as caretaker boss in December and January but it is understood the presence of director of technical performance and scouting Dave McDonough was among the main stumbling blocks.

McDonough has since departed.

The former Wolves midfielder has the backing of Albion's senior players but support extends beyond the squad, with other members of the coaching staff and recruitment department believing the Oldbury-born 48-year-old is ready for the top job.

He has recently completed his UEFA Pro Licence and received plaudits from players for his role in keeping the Baggies in the Premier League this season, when Mel's failure to win over the squad meant Downing took charge of most training sessions from Monday-Friday as well as delivering half-time team talks.

While he had mixed results during his caretaker stint with one win, one defeat and three draws from five league games, there is a belief among many colleagues that he could flourish if handed genuine authority for man management and team selection – areas that Mel retained control of.

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Both Downing and Burton are keen disciples of England boss Roy Hodgson, who is Albion's most successful boss of recent times and a man whose methods remain popular with Albion's players and staff and which Downing would look to use.

However, the Baggies will need to decide whether a new face is needed to help lead their recovery from a dismal season and Burton, whose appointment was confirmed last night, will play a key role.

The former Wimbledon manager and Arsenal youth chief will be involved in drawing up a shortlist and interviewing potential candidates despite not starting officially until June 1.

Garlick, who spent just over a year as sporting and technical director after succeeding Dan Ashworth, will become director of football administration.

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