Downing determined to prove himself
Published 23/12/2012 | 07:24
Liverpool winger Stewart Downing is determined to make a future for himself at Anfield after seeming destined for the exit a couple of months ago.
After recording his first Barclays Premier League goal and assist since his summer 2011 move from Aston Villa in the 4-0 win over Fulham - Liverpool's biggest in the league since April 2011 - Downing is confident about staying.
"I'm just trying to work hard and take the opportunity when I'm given it," he said. "I'm here to play and as long as I get the opportunity I'll try my best."
Manager Brandan Rodgers said he had spoken to Downing at length during his most difficult spell at the club and it appears that pep-talk has paid off.
"I thought Stewart was brilliant today, in every aspect of the game," said the Reds boss.
"I spoke to Stewart about six or seven weeks ago and we had an honest conversation about where he was at. He's in his late 20s, he was an England international a few years ago and he wasn't playing. So we spoke about how he could get into the team. And I think his reaction from that moment, like it has been for Jose Enrique and one or two of the others, has been outstanding."
Fulham manager Martin Jol was bitterly disappointed with the performance.
"You could say if we concede goals like we did today you are almost playing against yourself," he said.
"We wanted to put them under pressure but we didn't do that in the first half.
"It was as if we had played together for the first time."