Brendan Rodgers Praises Stewart Downing, Jose Enrique for Turning Around Their Seasons

Stewart Downing and Luis SuarezBrendan Rodgers believes the form of Liverpool winger Stewart Downing in recent months merits a return to the England team.

The 28-year-old has thrived for the Reds during 2013 and has notched a goal in each of his last two appearances — with a header at Wigan and a driven finish at home to Tottenham.

Downing traveled to Euro 2012 with the Three Lions last summer but has not played a game for his country since a friendly with Norway in May 2012.

With Roy Hodgson‘s team continuing its 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign next week, Rodgers hopes that statistic can change.

“I’ve been delighted with Stewart, he has come into the team and made the position his own. He has been absolutely outstanding,” the boss told Liverpoolfc.com. “There’s no doubt about Stewart’s qualities and what he’s showing at the moment is that fighting spirit, 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 center-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.”

Rodgers was also enthused about the performances of defender Jose Enrique, and described the Spaniard as among the best the Barclays Premier League has to offer.

“Jose has been outstanding in the last few months,” the Northern Irishman added. “He was in and out of the team a little bit at the beginning, and we moved his position to try to improve his confidence level. From that moment he has gone back into his position and been absolutely outstanding. He’s a wonderful athlete; he’s got areas of the game that he’s looking to improve on.

“We’ve got two full-backs, in him and Glen Johnson, who are arguably the best in the league.”

The Reds have nine games left on their schedule for 2012-13 — and the boss insists success can be achieved during the time remaining.

“We’re very high on confidence — we’re scoring goals and playing very well,” the manager said. “But we can’t get too carried away. It has been a natural growth over the course of the season. It’s a great credit to the players and how hard they’ve been working.

“You’ve got to maintain that standard and that’s what we’re looking to do between now and the end of the season. You’re playing for institutional pride here every game. It’s not just about certain games — it’s every game that you play.

“We’ve got targets to achieve and we’re still very much fighting right the way through until the end of the season. This is a point of the season when as a football club, to be successful, you’ve got to narrow your focus and win games.

“Thankfully we’re winning games and performing well. If we can retain that focus, it should finish well for us and let’s see where it takes us.”

Yardbarker

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