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?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own