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Downing: Judge Suarez on talent alone

Stewart Downing believes the controversies which have enveloped Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez should be forgotten when deciding on the Player of the Year.

Suarez scored a hat-trick in the 4-0 demolition of Wigan, taking his league tally to 21 in 27 games, edging him two ahead of main rival Robin van Persie of Manchester United and six in front of Tottenham's Gareth Bale, the other major contender.

However, the Uruguay international has been involved in a spate of controversial incidents in recent years, but Downing insists it is his quality as a player that outshines all else.

"I wouldn't like to say who will get it [the award]. They're all great players, they've all had great seasons. Bale is Tottenham's main man, Luis is ours with his goals and Van Persie is great. They're all top players and it's a hard choice.

"It could go any way, that's how close it will be. It may end up with whoever gets the most goals this season, so Luis is in with a hell of a chance.

"It should only be judged on his performance on the field - and you can't fault him for that. Obviously he's had things which have happened in the past but he's got on with his football and does his job at the end of the day.

"It should be judged on how he plays and, for me, that's all it boils down to. Nothing else should matter - I think he's got a hell of a chance."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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