"It is a big possibility that he can play there," was Brendan Rodgers' take on the matter when asked if a move to left back could be in Stewart Downing's future should he remain at Liverpool past Friday and the close of the transfer window. "When Middlesbrough reached the UEFA Cup final against Sevilla, he played left-back on that run.
"Stewart has a future as an attacking player but I have had a good chat with him on the role and he is excited about it. There is no point putting a player into a position he doesn't want to play. But when you speak to someone and tell them what the future could be, along with the qualities that he has, there is no doubt that in the modern game, he could play that role."
Rodgers may be right about Downing being suited to the role, particularly against sides that will look to do nothing but clog their defensive end, though it is a bit odd to hear the manager talk of a 28-year-old with eleven seasons experience having a "future" as an attacker just as he's considering shifting him to left back to find playing time with the arrival of Oussama Assaidi and emergence of Raheem Sterling.
"If you look at the modern day full-backs, Jordi Alba, Ashley Cole—Ashley Cole was a centre-forward. But you looked at Stewart in the half hour against Hearts, he served the ball well, he got forward and defended a couple of times. That is important. I think he is good enough for that."
Those thirty minutes against Hearts don't make Downing a defender, but if Rodgers feels he has enough promise to develop into a capable left back in what should be the prime of his career then there's really nothing to lose—at least for the player. It's a bigger gamble for Rodgers, but one it appears likely he will take a chance on.