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Downing: Gerrard must play on

Stewart Downing believes it would be a mistake for Steven Gerrard to quit international football after the European Championships - and has backed him to take over from John Terry as skipper.

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Speaking ahead of England's friendly against Netherlands at Wembley on Wednesday, Downing insisted Gerrard still has much to give to the national side.

"Steven certainly still has a lot to offer England,'' Downing said of his Liverpool team-mate. "You have seen the lift he has given the players at Liverpool when he came back from injury.

"I have not spoken to Steven about whether he is going to retire after the tournament but I would be selfish and say I hope he plays on. He is a great player and we need players like him in our team.

"He's captained Liverpool for many years and done very well and if picked for England would do that job well. He's a big player for Liverpool and England, has a great influence on England and drives teams on so if he is given the captaincy then great.''

Downing insists not knowing yet who the England manager will be at the European Championships is not a distraction for the squad.

He said: "We've got a big tournament coming up in the summer. It's a good test for us against the Dutch. They've got a strong squad, but I'm confident we can get a result.

"Every time a new manager comes in it's a fresh start for us. It's a challenge to impress a manager and you need challenges in football to keep you going.

"I think we have to be strong-minded and concentrate on the games. The FA will take care of the new manager, at the moment Stuart Pearce is in charge and we are right behind him.

"I think every one is touting (Tottenham boss) Harry (Redknapp), he's obviously the favourite to get the job. If he gets the job the players will obviously do their best, but at the moment it's Stuart Pearce.''


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