Downing eyeing England recall


Published: Sunday 2nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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Stewart Downing believes he has played himself into contention for an England recall on Thursday with his recent form for West Ham.

Downing, who holds 34 international caps and last played for the Three Lions in May 2012, has often been deployed as a central midfielder rather than a winger by Hammers manager Sam Allardyce this season.

And the 30-year-old has shone, with his performance in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Stoke – in which he created one goal before scoring another – just the latest in a series of impressive displays.

England boss Roy Hodgson’s squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia and friendly clash with Scotland is announced on Thursday, and Downing said: “If he picks me it would be unbelievable – I’d love to play.

“I’ve just got to keep playing well and if I can nick goals and create, it gives him a problem to think about.

“We’ll see what happens (on Thursday). There are a couple of injuries there and I’ll look at the squad, see what he does and who he picks.

“I know he’s been to games and is watching us, so we’ll see. That’s my attitude at the minute. If he picks me, great. If not, I’ll just carry on.

“If you’ve been watching us over the last six or seven weeks, I think not only me, but also other players in our team would have a shout for that squad. It will be interesting.”

Allardyce, whose side are fifth in the Barclays Premier League, has backed Downing’s claim for a place in Hodgson’s squad.

“If they (England) need a centre midfield player either in the three or in the hole, it’s well worth having a look at him, the way he’s played this year,” Allardyce said.

“He’s not under the radar for England.

“They have already recognised he has taken a different position – whether that fits into his shape of play is up to Roy to decide, but certainly Stewart’s making big strides to say ‘here I am, I’m playing really, really well’.

Downing has the support of his West Ham team-mates as well.

Defender James Collins, who also played with Downing at Aston Villa, said: “Stewie is a world-class player.

“I think he deserves the recognition as he’s playing superbly at the moment.

“He’s probably the driving force of our team. It’s nice to see him getting back in the limelight.

“If he keeps playing the way he is, I’d be one of the first to say I’m sure an England call-up’s coming.

“I don’t know how much more he has to do to get into the England team.

“We have a number of players in our squad who could be pushing – (midfielder) Mark Noble, Stewie, the two full-backs (Aaron Cresswell and Carl Jenkinson).”

Meanwhile, Allardyce is optimistic Hammers top-scorer Diafra Sakho will be fit to face Aston Villa on Saturday after missing the Stoke game with a shoulder problem.

Published: Sunday 2nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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