Football - Rodgers pleased to see Downing on the up

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes winger Stewart Downing has benefited from a sympathetic ear and an honest appraisal of the situation facing him at Anfield.

The England international produced arguably the best display of his 17-month Anfield career with his first Premier League goal for the club and first assist in the 4-0 dismantling of a woeful Fulham.

Yet only last week the 28-year-old had revealed Rodgers had told him he could leave in January if he was not happy.

The Reds boss admits there has been a marked improvement in Downing's form and puts that down to the response their frank and open exchange at the end of October.

"I think if you communicate with him you hope you can see a reaction," said Rodgers, whose move for Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge is progressing with the player on Merseyside for a medical and further negotiations on Sunday and Monday.

"You get some players like that. Some can manage themselves but you find with attacking players, because their job is to take people on, when things are not going quite right then they need that bit of support.

"But all they can do is work hard and you have to give massive credit to Stewart because he has reacted really well.

"Since then he has played a lot of games and he is a very important member of our group at the minute.

"If he keeps playing like that hopefully he will establish himself in there and show the talent he clearly has. If he wasn't playing then we would have looked at it (him moving) in January."