Downing not in a Stew over drop

Aston Villa star Stewart Downing is confident he can avoid the agony of relegation from the Premier League for the second time in three years.

Left-sided winger Downing went down with Middlesbrough at the end of the 2008-2009 campaign.

Villa are currently only one point above the drop zone ahead of Sunday’s clash at Everton, but Downing believes there is enough quality in Gerard Houllier’s squad to survive.

He said: "I have been in this situation before when I was at Middlesbrough so I know what it is like.

"No disrespect to Middlesbrough but when we went down we had a right good go and just weren’t good enough at the end compared to the next-placed team.

"But, if you look at the quality we have got here I think our experience will shine through."

Carlos Cuellar, meanwhile, has tipped fellow Villa centre-back Ciaran Clark to become "one of the best defenders in Europe".

Clark, in action for the Republic of Ireland against Uruguay on Tuesday, has been one of few bright spots for Villa this season.

"He is one of the best defenders I have played with. He is superb," said Cuellar. "He is young but he has some amazing assets. He is quick, he has good technique, he can play, he can tackle and he’s good in the air. He’s got everything you need to succeed and flourish.

"He is also incredibly versatile. He will be one of the best defenders in the Premier League and in Europe too in my opinion. He’s that good."