This year is going to be crucial in Jonathan Leko's development, reckons England under-20s boss Keith Downing.

The Charlton forward has started in every league game since joining on loan from West Bromwich Albion and grabbed his first goal in the Addicks' 2-0 win against Reading.

Although often found on the right wing, Lee Bowyer has deployed the 20-year-old as a striker up front with Lyle Taylor - ahead of other options such as Chuks Aneke, Macauley Bonne and Tomer Hemed.

But Downing, who handed Leko a late under-20s debut against the Netherlands last Thursday, believes he has a future in the role.

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According to the Express and Star, he said: "What everyone had to understand is he is in the first throes of playing as a number nine.

"Charlton are giving him that licence to play up front, so it's a really, really important year for him. I think he has a future there [as a striker].

"I think with Jonathan everyone has to just be a bit patient with him. He has huge potential. He is one of those that you have to keep supporting because, potentially, he has a big future in the game."

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Downing, who was also a coach at West Brom from 2009 to 2015, said he has been impressed with Leko during his loan spell at The Valley.

Another Charlton player who featured on international duty with England's under-20s was Conor Gallagher.

The on-loan Chelsea midfielder, who has equally impressed at The Valley, featured in the Netherlands game as well but was an unused substitute versus Switzerland a few days later.