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Downing reflects on Reds spell


Stewart Downing is delighted to be back in the England fold

Stewart Downing is delighted to be back in the England fold

Stewart Downing is delighted to be back in the England fold

Stewart Downing called his time playing makeshift left-back for Liverpool the lowest moment of a career which is in the midst of a resurgence thanks to another positional change.

Much was expected of the England winger when Kenny Dalglish forked out £20million to bring him to Anfield in the summer of 2011.

However, Downing struggled to find his feet on Merseyside and under Dalglish's successor, Brendan Rodgers, he was converted to a full-back.

It was a role the 30-year-old slotted into just so he could get back playing regularly, but it is not a time the midfielder, now with West Ham, remembers fondly.

Asked if that was as bad as it got, Downing said: "Yeah, I think so. Obviously I was out of the team for me just to play, just to get back in the team, was a big thing.

"But at left-back it was obviously difficult. It was a chance to get back in the team for me, so I obviously had to go along with it. I wasn't happy playing at left-back. It's not my natural position.

"I knew from then that it was time for me to move. I was getting signals - other players were coming in and I am getting used at left-back rather than winger.

"I think you know when the writing is on the wall for you at a club, so the West Ham move came at a good time for me.

"It was a chance for me to go and play football regularly and play under a manager who wanted me play every week."

Downing is full of praise for West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, who he highlighted as not only being key to his move to east London but his recent, and somewhat surprising, resurgence.

The Hammers' 3-1 home defeat to Southampton in late August saw Allardyce move to a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Downing playing a more central, attacking role.

It is a central position he reveals the West Ham boss always had earmarked for him and one he has thrived in, resulting in an England recall having not played for his country since Roy Hodgson's first match at the helm against Norway in May 2012.

"I played in Roy's first game, went to the Euros and didn't play at all," Downing said. "After that, I wasn't picked so I thought he had wanted to go in a new direction, a new type of player.

"Maybe the younger players you've seen come into the squad a lot.

"I've got no problems with that. Obviously it is a difficult decision for him to make, to pick 23 players. I understand that and my form probably at that time wasn't good enough to be in.

"I'm honest enough to say that but it just goes to show, if you keep playing well and your team is doing well, you've always got a chance of playing well."

PA Media