Stewart Downing believes he will become a better player because of the criticism levelled at him during his tumultuous debut season with Liverpool.
Downing signed for the Merseyside club last summer in a deal worth around £20 million, but the former Aston Villa winger came in for criticism after an indifferent campaign which saw him fail to score or a supply an assist for a team-mate throughout the entire league season.
Despite his form Downing earned a call up for England’s Euro 2012 squad, although he was left out of the 1-1 draw against France last night.
The efforts of Downing and Liverpool’s other under-performing signings was seen as a key factor in Kenny Dalglish being removed as Liverpool manager last month, but the 27-year-old insists he will use any criticism heading his way to improve for both club and country.
“Criticism makes you stronger," said the winger. "You are always going to get criticised at a big club like Liverpool but it is a great club to play for.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my first season and I am sure we will be better next year."
While Liverpool finished a lowly 8th in the Premier League last time round Downing insists they did little wrong, and says it was only bad luck which led to them recording their joint-lowest Premier League finish.
"A lot has been said about Liverpool and the fact we didn't perform but we battered teams at Anfield at times," he said.
"I can think of one or two bad performances. Most of the time we were very unlucky. We just didn't have that killer instinct. The manager said there wasn't much you could say and that was probably right.
"But a lot of new players signed, we played in two cup finals and came away with a medal so there were a lot of positives to come out of it as well."
Following Martin Kelly’s call up as a replacement for Gary Cahill, Liverpool now have six players in the England squad, more than any other side.