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Downing Hopeful of Liverpool Stay

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Comments from Brendan Rodgers last week seem to suggest that Stewart Downing's role with Liverpool might not extend past the January transfer window, but the out of favor winger doesn't plan on giving up easily.

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Clive Brunskill - Getty Images

"I don't want to leave and I don't want to play for anyone else. I'm enjoying it here. Yes, I'm disappointed that I'm not in the team at the moment but football is a funny game. I'll fight for my place here. I have done that since I was 10 years old when I was trying to get through at Middlesbrough.

"I fought very hard when I was at Aston Villa to do well for them and get a good move to Liverpool. The only thing I can do is keep working hard and when the chances come, make sure I take them. Things can quickly change. This time next month I could be playing every week."

Just as we could criticize Charlie Adam for wanting to stay at Liverpool and fight for his place, we'd be misguided to aim vitriol at Stewart Downing for hoping that he can play football on a regular basis. There's plenty to criticize both players for, and while there seemed to be suggestions from Brendan Rodgers that Downing's attitude could use a bit of improving, he's mostly been a solid professional and hasn't displayed anything other than commitment to the club and its success.

But like we saw with Adam, or even Andy Carroll, that's not necessarily enough to keep someone around, and in the case of Downing, I don't see many other outcomes than a move in January. It's entirely possible that, as he says, injuries or fitness or changes in fortune could see him playing more regularly until that point, but there aren't many compelling reasons for the club to fight to keep him around other than that he cost a lot so it'd look bad.

It's a dramatic change of fortune for a player that was so heavily favored under Kenny Dalglish; he had a good opener against Sunderland, a decent half of football in the League Cup final, and was borderline competent in fits and starts throughout the year, including his winner in the FA Cup quarterfinal against Stoke. But beyond that he was frustrating to watch, and that he was selected so frequently over players that could--and did, when given the opportunity--make a more pronounced impact.

He was involved quite a bit in the early-going this season as well, with Rodgers selecting him to start in each of the club's first three matches. Since that time, though, he's been on the fringes, with Europa League starts, ineffective substitute appearances, and being left out completely against Manchester United. The rise of Raheem Sterling and Suso certainly haven't helped, and neither has Oussama Assaidi's return to match fitness, but the real problem lies in the fact that Stewart Downing just hasn't been very good during his time with Liverpool, and given a style of play that doesn't seem to fit with the player's natural skill--running forward fast, flinging the ball into the middle, repeating etc etc.

The move to fullback might help, but if he's not getting the minutes in cup competition, it's hard to see much changing for Stewart Downing at Liverpool. Wanting to stay and fight is admirable, and if that pays off for player and club that's terrific. Right now, though, it's hard to see any sort of payoff in his future other than one that sees him heading elsewhere.