MARTIN BRAITHWAITE has already won over his team-mates at Middlesbrough, with Stewart Downing claiming the Danish international is too good for the Championship.

And Downing, who also paid tribute to young winger Marcus Tavernier for the impact he has had on Boro’s recent fortunes, wants everyone connected with Boro to help Braithwaite reach the Premier League.

Braithwaite has scored three goals in his eight appearances since moving from Toulouse in the summer, and he was the star turn for the Teessiders when they overcame Sunderland on Sunday at the Riverside Stadium.

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His performances are going to be crucial in Middlesbrough’s attempts to stay in the promotion mix, and losing him for six weeks at the start of the campaign because of a hamstring injury looks to have been an even greater blow now than it was then.

Downing said: “Martin is probably too good for the level he was playing at (in France) and even now (in England), he has Premier League quality.

“We are pleased to have him here and hopefully he will keep producing the goods to get us up and he can play with us at that level. He has goals, assists and works hard. He has a bit of everything. He is also a good lad.”

It was Downing, also impressive in recent matches, who laid on the delightful pass behind the defence for Braithwaite to run on to and cross for Tavernier to hit the early winner against Sunderland.

And the homegrown winger has revealed how the pair have discussed ways to improve their understanding on the pitch – something that is clearly paying off.

“Martin has obvious quality, you can see that and he is easy on the eye,” said Downing. “He makes good runs as well, we saw he made some good runs at Hull in the previous game and we didn’t pick him out.

“I told him not to get frustrated and that he will get the pass, against Sunderland he made that great run and I found him with the pass. It was easy for him then to find Tav who scored. It’s nice when you see things like that from the training ground pay off.”

Braithwaite has travelled to Denmark after receiving his recall to the international set-up and is part of an extended squad for the World Cup double header with Ireland, when he faces Cyrus Christie and Darren Randolph.

Those three are not the only Middlesbrough players on international duty, with Sunday’s goal-hero Tavernier away with the England Under-19s ahead of tomorrow night’s European Championships qualifier with the Faroe Islands and then next Tuesday’s game with Bulgaria.

The 18-year-old has started the last three Championship games, all victories, since making his scoring in the EFL Cup defeat at Bournemouth last month. He has impressed the man on the opposite wing to him too.

Downing said: “Marcus probably thinks it’s easy at the moment doesn’t he? Two goals, four wins and he is riding high. Credit to him, Sunday was a big game, a big derby and he played with no fear and really handled it.

“He is only 18 and it won’t always be plain sailing for him but let him enjoy it for as long as he can. To get the winner against Sunderland is fantastic for him.

“He is quiet enough, he is quieter than some of the older lads but he is quite a bit younger. He works hard for the team and won’t get chance to pipe up too much or the lads will kick him into shape. He has been a breath of fresh air. With injuries he got his chance and he has taken it.”

While individually there have been improvements, manager Garry Monk is more satisfied with the progress Middlesbrough have made as a team – with a feeling there is plenty more to come.

The climb into the play-off places for the first time since early September has stemmed from being tighter at the back, conceding just one in their three-match winning run.

And Downing, after the first home win in four, said: “If you can’t win games then you have to keep things tight to collect points. We have settled down a bit now, I think that’s not just the back four because I think the whole team had to defend better. We have been good at that lately. We have cut the conceding first out lately and hopefully that continues.

“We have tightened up. I think a settled team has probably helped. But we had injuries and new lads were just settling in, so you can’t always have a settled team for reasons like that.

“Me and Tav weren’t even in the 18 either and that can happen. It just feels everything has settled down. The fans have been with us, against Sunderland they were really good for us.

“On the training ground we have worked on things and we are playing a different shape to what we probably were at the start of the season.

“The manager has looking for a system to suit the personnel. It was always going to turn around but it is nice that it happened sooner rather than later.”