Downing not ‘making up numbers’

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Downing, who was recalled to the England set-up for the European qualifier with Slovenia and the eagerly-anticipated friendly with Scotland, will join up with Hodgson’s men for the first time since their trip to Norway in May 2012. 

And while delighted at being handed an international life-line, Downing insisted he had no plans of joining the squad to simply make up the numbers.

Excited

Speaking after the Hammers’ goalless draw with Aston Villa on Saturday, Downing said: “I’m very pleased. Hopefully I’ll play or be involved that’s the main thing.

“If I get picked I want to be involved, and not just go there to make up the numbers. So I’m looking forward to it, it’s a chance and there are places up for grabs. I’ll go there, enjoy it and hopefully get a start or, if not, hopefully be involved.

Saturday’s draw with Villa extended West Ham’s unbeaten run in the league to five games – a run of form which has become somewhat reliant on the new-found form of the midfielder.

Despite having only scored twice in the league for the Hammers this season, Downing’s noticeable improvement has come with his ability to turn into a provider for his team-mates.

Wind-up

And Downing, who believed he would never put an England shirt on again, admitted his recent form must have been crucial to Hodgson making the call. 

“He (Roy) is obviously looking at players and I hadn’t been picked for a while. Roy had gone with other options and to be honest I didn’t think I’d be picked,” Downing added.

“So to be picked I’m obviously over the moon and hopefully I don’t go to make the numbers up I go to be involved and play some part.

“I spoke to Roy a couple of weeks ago when he came for the Man City game and he said he’d been watching me so I knew he’d been watching the games.

“When I spoke to the woman at The FA I knew it wasn’t a wind-up. I’ve been involved in squad’s before but I’m obviously pleased to be back in.”