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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

50-50 Challenge
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Rodgers: Downing deserves England call

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers feels that Stewart Downing's transformation in fortunes at club level deserves to be crowned with a return to the England set-up.

Downing's future at Anfield has been far from certain over the past few months - in September, Rodgers publicly questioned his attitude and urged him to "fight for the shirt" after some tepid early-season displays, while the player revealed in December that he'd been told he could find another club in the transfer window.

However, the former Aston Villa winger refused to throw in the towel and responded by forcing his way back into Liverpool's starting XI. He has been one of the club's most consistent players in recent weeks, scoring in successive Premier League victories over Wigan and Tottenham.

And after witnessing first-hand the progress Downing has made, Rodgers believes that it is time for an international recall for the 28-year-old, who has missed out on all of Roy Hodgson's squads since Euro 2012.

"I've been delighted with Stewart," Rodgers said. '"He has come into the team and made the position his own. He has been absolutely outstanding. There's no doubt about Stewart's qualities and what he's showing at the moment is that fighting spirit.

"He is doing all those things that we ask of every player in the team. It was a terrific goal at the weekend - how he read the game to press the centre-half and challenge the goalkeeper. It was a wonderful finish with his right foot.

"It showed his confidence level and how he's playing at the moment and we'll look to keep that going. If he continues this form, I'm very hopeful he'll play himself back into the England team."

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