Boro winger signs on

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Middlesbrough have persuaded starlet Adam Johnson to commit his future to the club.

The 17-year-old was rumoured to be interesting Liverpool, but Boro have moved quickly to tie down Johnson - who made his senior bow earlier this year.

Johnson has signed a deal which will see him remain at The Riverside until 2007.

"I am delighted that Adam Johnson is signing his first professional contract with us," said Boro boss Steve McClaren.

"It's good news for the club because he is a talented young player who shows a lot of promise.

"But it's also great for Adam because this is a wonderful club for young players to develop their skills in the knowledge that they will get their first team chances if they are good enough.

"Adam got his chance with a dream debut against Sporting Lisbon because of injuries.

"Now he must go on and continue to improve his learning if he wants to earn himself a place in the first team squad by rights.

"Stewart Downing, Adam's fellow left-winger, is a perfect example of what he can achieve if his attitude is right."

Johnson is now ready to try and push the likes of Boudewijn Zenden and Downing for a first team place.

Downing himself is also in talks over a new deal, but he admitted he was still some way off penning new terms. 

"The contract talks have started but there is still a long way to go. I have some big decisions to make. The talks have started and hopefully they will be sorted out soon," he said.

"If things are right on the playing side then I will have no problem with staying here."