Dalglish praises Downing performances for Liverpool

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has hailed winger Stewart Downing and defended him against those who have criticised his performances this season, The Daily Mail reports. Dalglish has also revealed that Downing is much better than he ever anticipated when signing him from Aston Villa.

Downing signed for £20m from the Midlands club last summer, but has failed to grab the headlines and has scored just once this season. The winger has yet to create an assist for Liverpool and was substituted for the sixth time in his 24 appearances for the Reds. An off-field distraction following his arrest in a nightclub brawl two weeks ago may also weigh heavy on Downing’s shoulders, along with the pressure from Liverpool fans to perform.

Dalglish believes that the 27 year old still has plenty of time to establish himself at Anfield and has also blamed himself for Downing’s indifferent form by not giving him a settled place in the side. The Reds travel to Bolton this evening, where Downing is expected to start as Liverpool look to get back to winning ways.

The Reds boss said: ‘Stewart is a fantastic footballer. He made a big move to come here and – with all due respect to the other clubs he’s been at – this is a massive club. He is going to need time to get used to his new surroundings but our opinion on him hasn’t changed. He is better player than I thought he was going to be. He is a better footballer and is quicker than I thought he was.’

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