Liverpool’s Downing: I’m part of Rodgers’ long-term plans at Anfield
Liverpool winger Stewart Downing says Brendan Rodgers has told him that he is part of the manager's long-term plans at Anfield
Stewart Downing says he has been assured by Brendan Rodgers that the Liverpool midfielder is part of the manager’s long-term plans at Anfield.
The England international appeared to be heading towards a premature exit in the January transfer window after being told he could look for a new club.
However, Downing, who joined Liverpool in a £20m deal in July 2011, broke back into the first-team and the midfielder has held down his place following a series of impressive performances.
Despite becoming a regular in Rodgers’ starting line-up, the former Aston Villa star admits there is no room for complacency with such fierce competition for places.
“All I need to do is look at the bench to remind myself that I have to keep performing well,” Downing told Liverpool’s magazine.
“There is real competition for places, especially since Daniel and Coutinho arrived in January. You have lads like Raheem waiting for a chance too. It means if you’re not playing well you’ll be hauled off.
“I’m sure the manager will also be looking to add to the squad in the summer. He’s told me I’m part of his long-term plans, which was great to hear. Now I have to ensure that continues to be the case.”
Former Reds manager Kenny Dalglish signed Downing in a big-money deal from Villa almost two years ago, but the winger took time to settle at the 18-time English champions.
Dalglish was criticised for bringing in Downing, but the England midfielder has finally adjusted to life at Anfield and is producing some of his Villa form, scoring five goals and making seven assists this term.
“Some lads hit it off straight away at a new club. Others don’t. In my case it took longer than I obviously wanted,” he added.
“I’m glad it’s clicked now and I have the chance to continue playing for a big club. I’ve always believed I could do well here.
“I’ve done that over the last few months and want to continue doing so for the remainder of this season and the years to come.
“Brendan challenged me to get goals and I’ve chipped in with a few. In the league I struggled in that area last season. I think that was the case for the whole team.
“They have been coming of late – I even scored a header at Wigan. It’s nice to get different types of goals. I think the manager doesn’t look too closely at stats – he’s told me all that matters is playing well.”