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Stewart Downing wakes up screaming in middle of game

The England wide-man hasn't enjoyed the most productive first season at Anfield, and Back of the Net's John Foster knows why...

Liverpool winger Stewart Downing has spoken of his anguish at waking suddenly, trembling and drenched in sweat, in the middle of  the his sideâÂÂs 3-2 defat to Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday.

Downing, who has struggled for form since his ã20 million move from Aston Villa last summer, woke early in the second half, when he was struck by a wayward pass from Jay Spearing.

âÂÂIt was a horrible nightmare,â the ex-Middlesbrough star told reporters. âÂÂI was dreaming that I couldnâÂÂt control my legs, or my feet, or a simple five-yard pass. And every time I tried to put in a cross, the ball turned into Randy LernerâÂÂs big, laughing face and floated away into the night.

âÂÂThen suddenly I woke up and I didnâÂÂt know where I was. But after about twenty minutes of stumbling around in confusion, things started to feel familiar.âÂÂ

âÂÂThen for a while I thought I was being shouted at by a tub of hairgel with a million teeth,â added the occasional England ace. âÂÂBut it was only Jordan Henderson trying to be assertive.âÂÂ

Some observers have been quick to criticise Downing for having an hour-long nap during a Premier League game, but Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish defended his somnolent wideman, preferring to focus on his unseen contribution.

âÂÂOkay, so StewartâÂÂs not offered that much in attack, or defence,â the paper-skinned tactician told Back Of The Net. âÂÂOr midfield, for that matter. But Joey Barton was very quiet all match trying not to wake him, and you have to give Stewart credit for that.

âÂÂSure, maybe when Stewart first signed heâÂÂd go missing for a while during games, when the crowd were on his back, or when he needed a wee,â Dalglish continued.

âÂÂBut fair play to the lad, we laid his comfort blanket on the touchline before kick-off, and heâÂÂs spent the whole match hugging it. I thought he did very well to help limit QPR to only three goals.âÂÂ

Meanwhile, LiverpoolâÂÂs coaches are reportedly encouraging Downing to observe team-mate Andy Carroll, which should make him feel much better about himself.