Liverpool's Stewart Downing defends form ahead of Manchester United match: Being in and out of the team doesn't help

The former Aston Villa player, who joined the Reds for an estimated £20 Million in the summer, admitted his performances have not been consistent but believes he has improved

Liverpool midfielder Stewart Downing has defended his form ahead of the club's FA Cup fourth-round match against Manchester United, claiming that being in and out of the team didn't help.

The former Middlesbrough player joined the Reds for an estimated £20 million from Aston Villa last summer but has struggled for form and is yet to score a league goal in 22 appearances.

The only goal the winger has managed was against Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup third round, but nevertheless, the 27-year-old believes his form has definitely improved recently.

“The media do build things up a lot more than we do here, but that's the way football is,” he told the club’s official website.

“I just get my head down - whatever is said is said, there's nothing you can do about it.

“I started quite brightly, then was in and out, and now I'm starting to pick up form again.

“I want to play all the time but the only way I can do that is to play well.

“I've got to get my head down and work hard, and the last couple of weeks I'm pleased with how it's gone personally.

“As long as the manager is happy with me, and the club and the players, then that's fine by me.

“The manager has been really good to me from the first day I came. He's given me lots of confidence – and it's the same with every other player.

“He's great to play for. That's all you want as a player – a manager who is honest with you, who gives you the confidence to go out and play.”

Liverpool face rivals United on Saturday and the winger is fully aware of how much damage their opponents can do if the Reds do not perform at Anfield.

Downing admitted: “It's a massive game against Manchester United and you have to start well against a big team because if they get early goals it's hard to get back into the game.

“We have to do that because top players hurt you if you're not on your guard.

“We've set a good standard against City. As a team we should go out and be really confident playing against United that we can beat them.”