Stewart Downing claims to be stronger after 'up and down' season

 

Stewart Downing is adamant he will be stronger because of the criticism he has endured during an "up and down" debut campaign for Liverpool.

Downing has been identified as one of the negatives from a tumultuous campaign for the Merseyside giants.

The 27-year-old left Aston Villa for £20million last summer, yet failed to contribute either an assist or a goal to Liverpool's Premier League campaign, which ended with them finishing eighth.

Evidently, owner John Henry was unimpressed and promptly dispensed with manager Kenny Dalglish's services, bringing in Brendan Rodgers as the Scot's replacement.

Yet Downing has remained a regular member of the England squad and has been tipped to start their Euro 2012 opener against France in Donetsk on Monday as Wayne Rooney serves the first match of his two-game ban.

"Criticism makes you stronger," said the winger.

"You are always going to get criticised at a big club like Liverpool but it is a great club to play for.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my first season and I am sure we will be better next year."

As Liverpool's troubles continued, so the mirth at Dalglish's repeated insistence his side was doing nothing wrong grew louder.

Yet Downing is adamant there was some truth in his old boss's assertions, even if the eventual outcome tells a different story.

"A lot has been said about Liverpool and the fact we didn't perform but we battered teams at Anfield at times," he said.

"I can think of one or two bad performances. Most of the time we were very unlucky.

"We just didn't have that killer instinct. The manager said there wasn't much you could say and that was probably right.

"But a lot of new players signed, we played in two cup finals and came away with a medal so there were a lot of positives to come out of it as well."

It does seem strange that, thanks to the late call-ups for Jordan Henderson and Martin Kelly, there are now six Liverpool players in the squad, more than any other team.

Four have a realistic chance of starting too, with Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson virtual certainties, whilst Downing and Andy Carroll are in the reckoning as well.

Jermain Defoe's departure following the death of his father should not affect Roy Hodgson's team selection too much as the Tottenham man was set to be used as an impact player against the French.

It is not yet known whether Defoe will return in time to be involved.

Of more immediate importance is confirmation, through goalkeeper Joe Hart, that John Terry came through a closed-doors training session, England's first since they landed in Poland yesterday evening.

"He was fine - flying round like he does," said the goalkeeper. "He doesn't seem to be holding back."

Terry's importance to Hodgson can hardly be understated given the grief that has had to be endured since his selection.

And, even though Gary Cahill's absence with a fractured jaw means Terry will have to swap from his favoured left-sided station to accommodate Joleon Lescott, Hart feels the transition will be a smooth one.

"It worked on Saturday straightaway," said Hart, of the defensive partnership that needed to be put into place following Cahill's exit during the opening stages of Saturday's win over Belgium.

"Obviously, JT prefers to play that left-hand side.

"But I'm pretty sure he's played on that right-hand side before and done brilliantly."

Hodgson has already conceded England cannot be viewed as favourites against a France team currently on a 21-match unbeaten run.

Yet Downing does not believe the Three Lions should be intimidated by such statistics.

"We don't fear them," he said. "France are a good team but so are we.

"We know their strengths and weaknesses. They are good going forward and have some great individual players.

"It will be a tough game but it is a great opening match for us to play and we are confident we can get a result against them."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Bafetibis Gomis of Swansea City is stretchered off at White Hart Lane
football
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
people
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot