Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Rodgers pleased to see Downing on the up

Brendan Rodgers, pictured, hopes Stewart Downing can continue to improve

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes winger Stewart Downing has benefited from a sympathetic ear and an honest appraisal of the situation facing him at Anfield.

The England international produced arguably the best display of his 17-month Anfield career with his first Premier League goal for the club and first assist in the 4-0 dismantling of a woeful Fulham. Yet only last week the 28-year-old had revealed Rodgers had told him he could leave in January if he was not happy.

"I think if you communicate with him you hope you can see a reaction," said Rodgers. "You get some players like that. Some can manage themselves but you find with attacking players, because their job is to take people on, when things are not going quite right then they need that bit of support. But all they can do is work hard and you have to give massive credit to Stewart because he has reacted really well."

He went on: "Since then he has played a lot of games and he is a very important member of our group at the minute.

"If he keeps playing like that hopefully he will establish himself in there and show the talent he clearly has.

"If he wasn't playing then we would have looked at it (him moving) in January."

Downing has now started seven of the last eight matches, five of which have come in the league after previously making just one start in the opening-day defeat at West Brom.

His brilliant reverse-pass was instrumental in setting up Steven Gerrard for Liverpool's important second after Martin Skrtel's superb volley. Then came the moment he had waited for, smashing his first league goal for the club he joined in July 2011, before Luis Suarez scored his 11th league goal of the season in added time.

"He is a good guy, he comes in every day to work hard and you saw his technique and quality yesterday but equally important was his fight," said Rodgers of Downing's display.

"He was clever in his pressing and I spoke to him again the other day just to thank him because in the last few weeks he's played left-back, left wing and right wing and he hasn't moaned and groaned he's got on with it. He is playing well at the moment and he fully deserved his man-of-the-match award."

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