Liverpool winger Stewart Downing is aware of the competition for places in the side, but feels he can establish himself as a regular by showing consistency.
The English international also confessed that he cannot afford to take his foot off the pedal as the arrival of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho in January, coupled with Raheem Sterling’s presence on the bench, could easily knock him off his perch if his form dips again.
After making a £20 million move to Liverpool from Aston Villa in the summer of 2011, the 29-year-old failed to make a name of himself at Anfield and was issued a warning by Brendan Rodgers earlier in the season to step up his game or seek a career elsewhere.
The manager’s admonishment though seems to have brought the best out of Downing, as since then, he has witnessed an upheaval in his performance and subsequently secured a regular place in the starting eleven.
However, despite having established a regular role in the team, Downing admitted he will need to maintain his form to keep himself up in the squad’s pecking order.
The winger was wary of the tough competition in the unit, but revealed that Rodgers had included him in his long-term plans for the club.
He told the Liverpool Daily Post: “All I need to do is look at the bench to remind myself that I have to keep performing well.
“There is real competition for places, especially since Daniel and Coutinho arrived in January. You have lads like Raheem Sterling waiting for a chance too. It means it you’re not playing well you’ll be hauled off.
“I’m sure the manager will also be looking to add to the squad in the summer. He’s told me I’m part of his long-term plans, which was great to hear. Now I have to ensure that continues to be the case.”
Downing’s change in fortunes was marked by a splendid performance against Fulham in December in a 4-0 win in which he netted a goal and also picked up an assist.
Before that game, he had gone a staggering 44 games without scoring or feeding an assist.
However, the forward insisted that the worse was now behind him, expressing his delight that things had finally started to go his way.
He added: “I’m glad it’s clicked now and I have the chance to continue playing for a big club.
“I’ve always believed I could do well here. I’ve done that over the last few months and want to continue doing so for the remainder of this season and the years to come.”
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