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The winger believes the Geordie forward has gained an undeserved reputation for his exploits off the pitch and says he faces a battle to maintain his own place in the squad

Liverpool's Stewart Downing has backed team-mate Andy Carroll to make a return to the England squad.

The striker was overlooked by interim coach Stuart Pearce for Wednesday’s friendly with the Netherlands as Sunderland's Fraizer Campbell received his first call-up.

The £35 million striker has begun to find his feet at Anfield in recent weeks after a struggle for goals and form since his move from Newcastle.

And Downing insists the Reds' No.9 is disappointed not to be in international action this week after some impressive outings with Liverpool, but should keep his hopes up for a place in the Euro 2012 squad.

He told reporters: “He’s been playing very well. He’s stepped up it up with some big performances. I’m sure he’s probably disappointed he’s not in.

“I’m sure he’s looking to the Euros thinking probably he’s got a chance of playing. But for Andy he just has to keep playing well and hope Stuart takes note of it.

“The team [Liverpool] is starting to gel and things are coming into play a little more. He’s been a big part of the team in the last few weeks, creating goals and making himself a handful. On his day he’s a handful for anyone.

“I think there is a place for him in the squad. He’s played before, he’s scored for England and he’s done well. He just needs to keep working hard and playing well for Liverpool and he’ll get his chance again.”

The former Aston Villa winger also hit out at the media portrayal of the 23-year-old, saying he is learning every day, on and off the pitch.

“With Andy a lot of questions are asked of him but from what I know of him he’s a quiet lad. He does his work at Liverpool and I don’t think he’s caused any problems at all,” added Downing.

“That’s not the Andy I know. He’s a young man, he’s learning the game, he’s learning ways in life. You make mistakes along the way but from what I’ve known of him at Liverpool he’s been no problem at all.”

The 27-year-old has struggled to maintain a position in the England squad under several managers and conceded he had plenty of worthy competition for a spot.

“[I've been] a little bit [frustrated]. Of late, I think the competition has gone up as well,” he continued.

“Some young lads come into the squad - Sturridge, etc. There’s Milner, a lot of people who can play in my position.

“I’ve just got to be confident I can do well and when I get my chance for England, and take it. But it’s frustrating when you get left out after playing well.”

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