Stewart Downing willing to play at left-back for Liverpool

 

Stewart Downing is happy at Liverpool and willing to fight for a place in the team at left-back.

New manager Brendan Rodgers has suggested the England winger may need to prove his versatility to safeguard his future at Anfield.

The 28-year-old had a disappointing first season at the club after being signed for £20million from Aston Villa by former boss Kenny Dalglish a year ago.

Rodgers has said he likes "multi-functional" players and gave Downing a run-out in the back four in the Reds' Europa League qualifying round play-off second leg against Hearts.

Downing said: "It was a good test and the manager probably wanted that for me. I enjoyed it up and down. It was hard work but it was good.

"I have said to him if he wants me to play at left-back or on the wing I am not bothered.

"As long as I play and do well, and the team do well, that is the main thing. It is a squad game. You are going to use everyone and if I am needed at left-back I am happy to do that."

Downing turned in a strong performance as the Reds secured their place in the Europa League group stages.

Yet despite Liverpool's near-complete dominance at Anfield they still needed a late equaliser from Luis Suarez to secure an aggregate success.

The Merseysiders were punished for their failure to take a multitude of chances when goalkeeper Jose Reina allowed a David Templeton shot to squeeze through his grasp six minutes from time.

Suarez had earlier missed two gilt-edged chances but made no mistake as he burst down the left in the 88th minute and finished clinically.

Downing said: "We made hard work of it. It was a tough game and they gave us a tough game at Hearts as well.

"We knew it would be but I think we were a little bit wasteful. We missed a few chances and we need to be a bit more clinical.

"You could sense nerves on the ground (when they scored) but I think we responded quite well. We kept passing the ball around and moving it.

"Luis scored a great goal for us, probably at the right time. It killed them off and we could relax a little in the last couple of minutes. Job done in the end."

It proved a busy night for Liverpool with £35million record signing Andy Carroll joining West Ham on a season-long loan.

Carroll has struggled to establish himself on Merseyside since leaving Newcastle 19 months ago.

Downing said of his England team-mate: "I'm disappointed obviously, but it is up to Andy what he does with his future.

"If that is to go to West Ham then I wish him all the best. He is a good lad.

"Obviously he has found it tough but I am sure he will do well for them, he is a good player. I think that is a good signing for West Ham."

There has been much speculation over possible incomings and outgoings at Liverpool ahead of the transfer deadline but Downing is not expecting to be involved in any activity.

He said: "Not that I have been told - unless the manager has something to tell me!

"I am happy here, I want to stay here. I am fighting to get back into the team and hopefully if I keep playing well I will get back in."

PA

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