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Aston Villa open contract talks with Stuart Downing

Aston Villa have opened talks with winger Stewart Downing over a new contract - and the player has intimated he would like to stay at the midlands club.

Downing, who has two years remaining of his current contract, has been linked with a summer move to Liverpool.

But he has given a strong indication he is content to remain with Villa.

Downing told the Birmingham Mail: "I think there have been a couple of conversations already with my agent.

"I've already spoken to the manager who has said he'd like to keep me.

"I've still got two years left and they've come to me with an offer.

"For a player, that is brilliant because it gives you confidence they have faith in you and that they reward players if they do well.

"I'm enjoying my stay here. I've enjoyed it since the first day I came. It's a terrific football club. it's fantastic they want me."

Regarding speculation over his future, Downing said: "It's part and parcel of being a player and doing well.

"Ever since I was young I've read stories saying 'you're going here, you're going there.

"Obviously if you have a good season you get linked, but I'm happy here."

Downing, voted Villa's player of the year, is optimistic about the future of the club despite a disappointing campaign after three top-six finishes in the Barclays Premier League.

He said: "There are terrific players here. I'm confident, despite this season, that we're going in the right direction and, if we get the right players in, then I'm happy.

"The important thing in football is if you're happy, then why change it.

"I know it's been a disappointing season but I can see the bigger picture."