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Downing: Oxlade-Chamberlain keeps me on my toes

Liverpool winger insists inclusion of the Arsenal youngster in the European Championship squad is bringing the best out of him as they both fight for a start on Monday

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing has heaped praise on the inclusion of Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in Roy Hodgson's 23-man England squad and insists he is helping to bring the best out of him.

England arrived in its Krakow training base yesterday after flying from Luton airport and the Three Lions manager conducted his first training session this morning ahead of the Group D opener with France on Monday.

But Hodgson has remained coy on who will get the nod to start on the wing against Les Bleus, after handing Oxlade-Chamberlain his first start against Belgium last week.

"I think we saw a glimpse of his talent at the weekend," Downing told reporters. "He’s an exciting player, who can run with the ball and it is good competition for me. He keeps me on my toes and whoever the manager decides to go with then we’ll just have to keep fighting for our place.”

Downing was replaced by the Gunners' youngster in England's 1-0 over Norway in Oslo after 72 minutes, before Hodgson gave him the nod over the Anfield man against Marc Wilmots' side at Wembley.

And with Oxlade-Chamberlain joining up with fellow inexperienced players in Jack Butland, Phil Jones, Martin Kelly, Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck in going to their first international tournament, Downing is confident that his call-up to the World Cup squad in 2006 can help the younger players with their development.

"When I went to the World Cup in 2006 it was certainly very exciting for a first tournament, so I understand what the young lads will be going through," he added. "Martin Kelly and Jordan Henderson have got to be very excited and it’s a great experience for them and if they need to speak to me or any of the other experienced lads then I’m here to offer them a helping hand."

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