Downing defends Villa team spirit
Stewart Downing has hit back at claims from former West Ham defender Alvin Martin that Aston Villa may lack the team spirit to win their relegation battle.
Martin, who now works as a media pundit, made the claims in the build-up to Saturday's clash between the two clubs at Upton Park. But Downing believes Villa can capitalise on the Hammers "being down in the dumps" after their defeat at Bolton last weekend.
Downing told Press Association Sport: "He (Martin) is not in our changing room. He doesn't know anything. I think team spirit is the biggest thing here. We have stuck together, have a great set of lads."
He added: "Team spirit is a big thing at every football club and fighting and tackling and making blocks and filling in for each other. That is all part of being a team. If it wasn't there, we'd be in trouble.
"That is easy for him (Martin) to say. Who did he play for, West Ham? I think he should look at West Ham. I'd tell you if the team spirit wasn't there."
Villa moved five points clear of the bottom three after last weekend's win over Newcastle but Downing knows a positive result against West Ham is vital.
He said: "The Newcastle win takes a bit of pressure off but it can flip around so easily.
"We've won a couple of games before and the next minute we are back in it. I think it does take a bit of pressure off but if we can win at West Ham it is a whole lot better.
"I am confident we can go there and win because they will be down in the dumps a bit after last weekend.
"We need to kick on and punish them. West Ham is not a nice place to play when the pressure is on."