STEWART DOWNING believes his upsurge in form for England can be put down to the successful start he has made to his Liverpool career.
The Reds winger, a £20m summer arrival at Anfield from Aston Villa, starred as Fabio Capello’s side defeated Bulgaria 3-0 in Sofia on Friday, and set up Ashley Young for the only goal as Wales were narrowly beaten 1-0 at Wembley on Tuesday evening.
And having impressed domestically since making the switch to Merseyside, the 27-year-old says he is now beginning to replicate his club form at international level.
“I am more confident,” Downing said. “Playing well at club level helps, getting a run of games helps your confidence and getting used to the players around me.
“It’s been a good start (to the season) for club and country. It was nice to play tonight.
“I’m really enjoying it, it was good to play at Wembley, though it would have been nice if we could have got a couple more goals. But the main thing is we got a result.”
Downing’s start to life at Anfield could barely have gone better. He has already begun to justify the money the Reds have spent on him with a series of exciting and consistent displays down the left hand flank, as Kenny Dalglish’s men have started the season with three wins from four games in all competitions.
And though he is eager to play down early talk of a title challenge, he admitted there is a feel-good factor around the club at the moment, and said he is hopeful they can maintain their strong form across the rest of the season.
“There is a feel-good factor,” he said. “We started the season very well but we’ve got a tough run of games coming up, starting with Stoke (on Saturday).
“If we keep playing the way we are at Liverpool, we’ve got a hell of a chance of being in the top bracket.
“But we take one game at a time.”
Downing’s appearance against Wales was his 29th senior outing for his country, and he has now established himself firmly in Capello’s plans ahead of next summer’s European Championships in Ukraine and Poland.
“I’m not sure if this is my most consistent form,” added the former Middlesbrough man. “Maybe with England because I’m getting a run of games and enjoying it. I’m happy. It would be nice to stay in the team and I’ve just got to keep playing well and hopefully that will happen.
“I’m happy playing on the right, left or in the middle. The main thing is to be in the team and playing”