Downing pleased with progress

After leaving Middlesbrough in a £12million deal last year, he had to wait until November to make his Villa debut as he was still recovering from a fractured foot when he arrived in the Midlands.

The 26-year-old has been a regular since making his first Villa start in last year's Carling Cup quarter-final win at Portsmouth and Downing's early-season form saw him return to the England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Montenegro.

Although Downing has been called up since joining Villa, his 23rd and most international appearance was while still at Boro - in the friendly against Slovakia in March 2009.

But after getting a full pre-season under his belt and scoring three goals in eight games this season, Downing insists he is fighting fit.

"It's been pleasing for me that I've had no setback or anything like that," he told the Birmingham Mail. "Since I've come back I don't think I've missed a game and that's a pleasing thing for me.

"You can't think about what's gone on in the past or mentally you'd be all over the place. I'm not that fussed. I've taken a few whacks on it in the past couple of months so it's not a problem at all."

Downing knows he cannot afford to shy away from tackles in a hard-working Villa side but that has helped convince him he is back to full fitness.

"We've got work to do whether we're on the wings or wherever we're playing," he added. "We have work to do and that's the other side of your game. You can't just rely on flair to win games.

"Sometimes there's another side to it. Sometimes even if we don't see a lot of the ball we have to concentrate on the other side of it because it's a team game."

Source: Team Talk