Downing targets extended run
The Aston Villa winger was part of the 2006 World Cup squad and started the opening three Euro 2008 qualifiers but is only now starting to reestablish himself as an England force. Downing was voted Villa's player of the year for 2010-11 and made his first start for his country for more than two years against Ghana in March. Now the 26-year-old is looking to build on that breakthrough in Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier with Switzerland at Wembley. Downing said: "It's been frustrating. I've been in and out and you just want a run as a player, to get in the squad or the team. "Maybe I am rebuilding my international career. I've been in and out of squads since I made my debut. "But I'm fit and well. With the country, I've been involved in the last two games. I was pleased to get a start so long may that continue. "I'm feeling confident. Hopefully I will play some part and show the manager I'm good enough to be here and to play. "But, with the competition, I think every trip you go on, you've got to prove (yourself) and constantly impress the manager. "You can't rely on your last game or last performance because one iffy performance and you are out. "There is great competition and great for the manager he has got those options. I've got to catch his eye." Downing has impressed at club level despite Villa flirting with relegation for long periods before a strong end to the campaign. He said: "In club terms, I've come off the back of a good season. "It's been a disappointing season as a whole as a club but in the end we got the job done. "There's been no hiding place but we finished quite strongly which is good." Downing is confident England will be switched on mentally for Saturday's game after a week's rest at the conclusion of the domestic season. He said: "I've finished the season quite well so I just want to keep on playing. "All players will tell you that if they are on a good run. "We've had a week off to rest so we should be fresh for the game and ready to win it. "I ended on a high at club level with the win against Liverpool and, with England, it will be nice to get a win going into the August-September games. It breeds confidence in the squad and we just want to carry on winning. "If we repeat the performances of recently, we will have no problem. The message is simply 'let's get a win."' "If we can win and head into next season top of the group, qualification starts to seem a little closer. "It will give us a big step forward." Downing has been impressed with the form of his Villa team-mate Darren Bent for club and country in recent months since his £18million move from Sunderland in January. He said: "Darren has scored a couple of important goals for England and been a great signing for Aston Villa. "He is a proven goalscorer, a good hard worker, who puts the chances away for Villa and it has been the same with England. "He has had three chances in the last three games and he has stuck every one away."