I’m hitting top form at Liverpool, declares Stewart Downing

Stewart Downing believes he is back in top form after receiving the backing of Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish earlier in the week

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Stewart Downing believes he is hitting top form at Liverpool after a difficult start to his Anfield career.

The 27-year-old midfielder joined Liverpool from Aston Villa for £20m in July but the England international has scored just once in 24 appearances.

However, Reds boss Kenny Dalglish backed Downing earlier in the week, declaring that the midfielder was “even better than I thought he was going to be”.

“It was very nice to hear,” said Downing. “The manager has been really good to me from the first day I came. He’s given me lots of confidence – and it’s the same with every other player.

“He’s great to play for. That’s all you want as a player – a manager who is honest with you, who gives you the confidence to go out and play.

“I started quite brightly, then was in and out, and now I’m starting to pick up form again.”

“I want to play all the time but the only way I can do that is to play well. I’ve got to get my head down and work hard, and the last couple of weeks I’m pleased with how it’s gone personally.”

The former Middlesbrough winger has been criticised for a slow start to the season – and although he admits players’ performances are subjected to intense scrutiny at Liverpool, he insists the spotlight does not have an effect.

“The media do build things up a lot more than we do here [at Melwood], but that’s the way football is,” he said. “I just get my head down – whatever is said is said, there’s nothing you can do about it.

“You’ve just got to try to play well. As long as the manager is happy with me, and the club and the players, then that’s fine by me.”

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