STEWART DOWNING is ready to buy into the Tony Pulis way but has warned his Middlesbrough team-mates they will be shipped out during this month’s transfer window if they don’t follow his lead.

Pulis has revealed he wants to reduce the size of the squad he has inherited over the next month because he does not think a bulging pool of players will help lead a promotion charge.

The new Boro boss insists he has not made up his mind on which players he wants to have around and those he will look to move on, and will be monitoring attitudes and performances continuing with today’s trip to seventh-placed Preston.

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Pulis suffered defeat in his first game in the Middlesbrough dug-out on Saturday when a Rob Snodgrass header with quarter of an hour remaining secured three points for Aston Villa.

The defeat, after back-to-back victories, was a frustration for Pulis and his players at a time when he was looking for his appointment to kickstart a charge into the play-off places.

Over the coming weeks he will be looking to put his own stamp on the team, and the first signs of that were against Villa when he started Ryan Shotton at right-back and Rudy Gestede in attack; he also named forgotten man Adlene Guedioura on the bench for the first time this season.

Pulis is a big fan of Downing having tried to sign him on a couple of occasions when he was Stoke manager, during the winger’s time at Liverpool and West Ham. He will be looking to get the best out of him, like he did on Saturday.

And Downing knows the new occupant of the manager’s office at the Riverside Stadium will be quick to move players on if he does not think they are right for the system he wants to adopt.

“Collectively he has spoken to us, a few individuals too,” said Downing, knowing the window opened today.

“He has spoken to a few of the older lads. I have known him for quite some time, I almost signed for him twice.

“I know what he is about, what he wants and he has got that message across to everyone. He has said if they don’t work they will be out in January.

“It was a shock to us all to see Cyrus lose his place. He has made that his own. He knows Adlene from Palace, so it is getting to know all of us. He will have his own ideas. I know he demands the best, he is intense and full on. He wants to get promoted.

“I see a new manager as a fresh start for everyone. He has said we will all get a chance. He knows what he wants.

“He has said work hard and put a shift in and if you do then you will be with him if not then there will be changes.”

An area where Pulis could look to move on is in the final third because he has five strikers to turn to, with Britt Assombalonga and Rudy Gestede the men preferred to lead the line against Villa.  Martin Braithwaite was used out wide before Adama Traore impressed during his half hour on the pitch, with the manager singling him out for praise. There was then Patrick Bamford and Ashley Fletcher used from the bench.  There is also an overload of centre-midfielders with Adam Clayton and Adam Forshaw completely left out of the match-day squad of 18 against Villa.

Pulis said: "This squad is a bigger squad than the one I left at West Brom, too many in my view, some you know and some you don't know. I need to assess the group.  “Steve (Gibson, the chairman) spent an absolute fortune in the summer and out of respect to him I really have to be prudent with what I do and don’t. Not make rash decisions.  “If it takes a bit of time it takes a bit of time but I want to be fair to Steve because he's spent a lot of money on the squad.

"There's players within the group that I've got to find out about. I've got a chance to watch a lot of games quickly. The squad is definitely too big. I don't like big squads.  “I wanted to come earlier to watch a lot of games. The squad is definitely too big. We definitely will cut it, I want to have a smaller group.  “I also like to bring a couple over from the academy to train with the first team. At the moment we’re leaving professionals out in ten v ten.”

Middlesbrough are three points adrift of the play-off places and ten shy of the second and final automatic promotion spot. Leaders Wolves, who won again at Bristol City on Saturday, are a further ten clean and seemingly out of sight already.

Downing thinks Pulis can make things happen at Middlesbrough and is excited to work under the 59-year-old.

The former West Ham winger said: “I see it as a challenge, working for a new manager. He has his own ideas and you have to make sure you fit into them.  “He is a lot different to the previous manager, he has a lot of similar attributes and a way of working to Big Sam (Allardyce). He demands the best. Hard work is one thing he demands the most and if you don’t give him that then you don’t play.  “You have seen his energy on the touchline. The message is work hard and if you don’t for him then you won’t be here very long.

“He will be frustrated, he basically plays the game in his area. The only time we lapsed was for the goal. I think he will be looking for us to show greater urgency in the first 35 minutes, in front of our own fans after. He wants us to make the opposition run.”  It was actually the first time Steve Bruce had ever beaten a Pulis team away from home during their managerial careers; a nine match stretch.  It was also the first time Bruce had ever won at the Riverside and he is confident Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson has made a brilliant decision to get the man he has to succeed Garry Monk.

Bruce said: "We've been in management a long, long time and for years we've been competing against each other.  “He's a very good appointment, he knows what to do, how to get teams promoted and he's a good man, too. I'm delighted to beat him, because he was out to beat me but we'll have a glass of red wine now and I'll welcome him to the North-East.”

Middlesbrough don’t have any fresh problems for the trip to Preston today so Pulis will just decide whether he wants to mix his team up after the defeat to Villa.