STEWART DOWNING says a difference of opinion with Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers over where his future lay sparked his revival in fortunes.
The England international was told by Rodgers back in November he could leave during the January transfer window after finding himself on the fringes of the Reds' squad.
However, rather than concede defeat Downing knuckled down and vowed to force his way back into the manager's plans.
The 28-year-old has succeeded – making 10 successive starts in all competitions and producing the best form of his Anfield career ahead of Sunday's FA Cup tie at Oldham.
“It was very open,” Downing said of his discussion with Rodgers.
“I wasn’t in the team and he said to me maybe I could look elsewhere because I need to play at my age. I didn’t totally agree but I understood where he was coming from.
“Obviously he needs players who are going to play and not be sat about, but I thought in the back of my mind if I get a chance I can prove myself to him.
“Luckily enough I did in the next week or so after that. Our conversations have been very open. If I’m doing well he will say so and if not, I’ll be pulled and told what I need to do. It’s the same for all the players. It’s good for me and that’s how I like it, to be told if it’s right or wrong.
“At the moment it’s all going well and he’s pleased with me, so I have to keep it going. I said to him I’d love to stay and if I keep playing well, then hopefully it can continue into the seasons after.
“I’ve still got a few more years on my contract so I’d like to see it out if that can happen, and the only thing I can do is play well and he’ll keep me in the team.”
Downing believes his recent performances have been the most consistent of his 18 months at Liverpool.
The winger says he has been helped by the upturn in form of players around him.
“The first season was patchy, I was in and out, but this year since I came back into the side it’s been consistently quite good,” he added. “It’s probably because the team is playing quite well that it has all come together. A good run of games has been good for me. I think I’ve proven in my career that if I play regularly I tend to give good and consistent performances.
“The best thing is playing in a winning team and playing with good players helps. There’s consistency in the whole team, which is helping my game as well.
“My aim every game is to make the manager not leave me out. The only way to do that is to perform well.
“I’ve basically had nothing to lose in games and I think that’s helped me over the last few weeks and long may it continue.”