Downing to get ‘close attention’

Downing made the £20million move to Anfield as part of the

Kenny Dalglish revolution following just two seasons at Villa Park

after initially hinting he was prepared to stay. McLeish knows

Villa will have to keep a close watch on the winger who scored the

winner for the midlands club in the corresponding fixture last

season. When asked what sort of reception Downing would receive,

McLeish said: “I don’t know. I think Stewart was a well-liked lad

here at Villa but I’m sure the fans will wind up the opposition.

“I’m sure Stewart will maybe not get too much flak because he is a

decent lad and he did a decent job “But maybe the fans will give a

wee bit of apprehension-inducing stick shall we say! “He is a

terrific player, and £20million tells you he has got something

in his locker. We know what he can do. We have to give him close

attention and try and make sure he has a quiet return to Villa

Park.” McLeish is aware of the threat posed by the Reds under

Dalglish and believes his fellow Scot has spent wisely on the likes

of Luis Suarez and Charlie Adam. But McLeish is also keen to

maintain the proud record he had when manager of Birmingham against

the leading clubs. He said: “Kenny has done a terrific job. I think

they have done some good business, spent a few bob on cracking

players who make a difference like Suarez and Adam. “At the end of

the day, these guys have got to perform and they have been

performing for Kenny. “But we absolutely relish these games and

over the last couple of years my record is pretty good against the

bigger clubs in the home games. “I think I went 11 to 12 games as a

manager undefeated in home games against the bigger teams when it

wasn’t expected. “I’ve got to believe I can do something similar at

Villa. The players have got to believe they can take points from

the clubs above us as well.” McLeish is refusing to comment on

speculation linking him with a move for former Villa midfielder

Steve Davies who is now at Rangers. But he admits he will have to

tread carefully is he decides to delve into the transfer market

during January. McLeish said: “I’m not at liberty to talk about

other players at other teams. We have a lot of players I admire in

mind but it remains to be seen if we can do business. “Just as in

the summer, we have to trade carefully. I’m using those words

again, box clever, and I don’t see us plunging into the market.

“You never know. If there is anything to be done trading wise, then

we have to consider things.” Villa’s five-goal joint top scorer

Gabriel Agbonlahor is suspended after picking up five bookings this

season. Emile Heskey and Nathan Delfouneso are the candidates to

replace him.