Four years ago, an inexperienced Downing left the Riverside for a six-week loan spell at North-East neighbours Sunderland. By the time he returned to Teesside seven games later, he had blossomed into a hardened performer capable of more than holding his own in the Premier League.
And Southgate told the Northern Echo: "Stewart came back and did well in the first team. That's why we sent Adam away to a club that are doing well.
"It's good for him to get winning experience. Last year, he was at Leeds and it didn't work out. They were a club struggling and that didn't help him.
"This has been a great experience for Adam though. He has gone to a club that we knew would look after him, and Aidy (Boothroyd) is dealing with him very well.
"I'm delighted with what is going on down there. He is not really playing many 90 minutes, even in that division, and it will benefit him in the long run."