Rodgers hints at left-back role for Downing at Liverpool

The former Swansea manager has revealed the England international's Anfield future could depend on him being deployed in a more defensive capacity as opposed to a winger

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has told midfielder Stewart Downing he may have to convert to left-back if he wants assurances over his future at the club.

Despite paying out £20 million for the former Aston Villa man's services last summer the player, who was part of Roy Hodgson's Euro 2012 England squad, now finds his future uncertain on Merseyside uncertain.

"I think it is a big possibility that he can play there. If you look at the modern-day full-backs, [Jordi] Alba [Spain left-back], [Chelsea's] Ashley Cole - Ashley Cole was a centre-forward,” Rodgers told The Guardian.

"When I bring young players through, I will always bring attackers because they can move back.

"When Middlesbrough reached the Uefa Cup final against Sevilla, he played left-back on that run.

"Sometimes it can release the pressure on players. His job at the top end of the pitch is to create and score goals.

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"But, you looked at him in the half-hour against Hearts [last Thursday], he served the ball well, he got forward and defended a couple of times. That is important."

Jose Enrique was first-choice left-back under former manager Kenny Dalglish, but this latest development has thrown doubt over his stay at Anfield, along with a number of the Scot's other signings such as Charlie Adam and Andy Carroll.

Rodgers continued: "I think he is good enough for that. Absolutely.

"Time will tell [whether he can do it consistently]. I don't like to just give up on players. I always look at different ways you can play them.

"Stewart has a future as an attacking player but I have had a good chat with him on the role and he is excited about it. That is the biggest thing.

"There is no point putting a player into a position he doesn't want to play. But when you speak to someone and tell them what the future could be, along with the qualities that he has, there is no doubt that in the modern game, he could play that role."

In addition, as exclusively revealed by, Academy graduate Jay Spearing is nearing the Anfield exit door after the club accepted a £3m bid from Championship outfit Bolton.

The 23-year old is expected to move to the Reebok Stadium before the transfer window shuts on Friday evening.