Downing still unsure of Liverpool future
Liverpool winger Stewart Downing does not know if he will be at the club next season despite fighting his way back into the first team.
Downing was considered surplus to requirements at the start of the season and at one point was linked with a return to former club Middlesbrough on loan. After a debut season at Anfield which produced not one Premier League goal or assist following a £20 million move from Aston Villa, new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers did not see a future for Downing at the club.
But Downing has forced his way back into Rodgers' plans and has started the last 11 Premier League games. Despite becoming a regular under Rodgers, Downing is still unsure if he will still be at Anfield next season.
"I was disappointed when I was told by the manager I could leave," Downing told the Daily Telegraph. "It looked like my chance had gone. The team was doing OK and I wasn't even getting on the bench at times.
"I had a situation where I could have left. But I didn't want to and the only way to stay was to get into the team and do well. I just needed that chance and luckily enough I got that in the weeks after that conversation. I'm happy with how it's going at the minute, but whether that changes in the summer I don't know.
"It was difficult, it was something I wasn't used to. It was a bolt from the blue. I'd not played so I didn't see that I had done a lot wrong. In a way, sometimes that can be a good thing, you see how you react in that situation.
"I thought I needed a chance to play as the system the manager was playing suited me. I had to fill in at left-back for a while, which I hadn't done before. But to play in my proper position higher up the field, whether it's on the right or the left, I think it's gone quite well since I was put in there. It was probably my last chance.
"He strengthened again in January with people who can play in my position, so the only thing I can do is if I keep playing well so he can't leave me out, basically. That's how I see it. Every time I play is a chance to prove him wrong and to show him I am worthy of a place in the team.
"The good thing about the manager is you know where you stand. You play well you're in the team, if you don't you're out of the door. It's as simple as that. That's the way I like to be managed."