Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given Stewart Downing the green light to leave Anfield despite selecting him to start against Aston Villa on Saturday, Sky Sports understands.
Downing, 28, has been absolutely awful during his time at Liverpool. The England international has made 43 league appearance since his £20 million move from Villa Park to Anfield in July 2011, and has yet to bag a goal or an assist in the Premier League.
The 28-year-old winger has been kept out of the Liverpool starting XI by 18-year-old sensation Raheem Sterling, who has also seemingly leapfrogged the Middlesbrough native in the England team.
“The manager has said I can leave if I want to,” Downing told the Liverpool matchday programme ahead of the Reds’ disappointing 3-1 defeat to Villa at Anfield on Saturday.
Villa’s triumph, thanks to goals from Christian Benteke (29′, 51′) and Andreas Weimann (40′), handed Liverpool their worst home defeat for more than three years, dropping Brendan Rodgers’ side to 12th-place in the English Premier League table.
“At the minute, I’m trying to play as many games as possible. If that doesn’t happen I’m at an age where I can’t be sat around,” added Downing.
“I need to play and the manager understands that. That’s how the situation is and we’ll have to see what happens in January or the summer.”
Downing has been linked with a return to Middlesbrough in recent weeks, but the club have already insisted that they may not be able to complete the move due to the player’s weekly-wages.
Blackpool reveal Ince talks in progress
Blackpool boss Michael Appleton has confirmed the Seasiders are listening to offers for 20-year-old winger Tom Ince, while insisting that they do not have any concrete offers on the table for the England Under-21 international, Sky Sports reports.
Ince, 20, has been in sensational form since leaving Liverpool for Blackpool in August of last year. The pacy winger — who is the son of former Manchester United player Paul Ince — has bagged 13 goals and nine assists in 19 league games at Bloomfield Road this season. Magnificent.
As a result, Ince is attracting interest from his former employers Liverpool as well as from table-toppers Manchester United, who could potentially finance a move for the England Under-21 international by allowing the out-of-favour Portuguese winger Nani to leave Old Trafford when the transfer window reopens in January.
Despite high levels of interest, no clubs have submitted an official bid for Ince, according to Appleton.
“There have been no bids as far as I’m aware,” revealed Appleton. “I think there have been conversations with a couple of clubs and the chairman, but nothing concrete.
“No-one has come in yet and set the marker in terms of a price.”