Barnes backs under fire Downing

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JOHN Barnes has hit back at Stewart Downing’s critics and insists the Liverpool winger deserves his place in England’s Euro 2012 squad.

Downing’s inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad was greeted with derision in some quarters on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old, signed from Aston Villa for £20million last summer, failed to score for Liverpool this season and did not provide any assists during his 36 appearances in the Barclays Premier League. Barnes claims Downing’s critics have been too harsh on the midfielder and has backed him to star during next month’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine. “Forget about what people say, I think Stewart Downing has had a decent season,” Barnes said. “He has created more chances for the team in the Premier League than any other wide player this year. They weren’t taken. He has just been reflective of Liverpool’s season. I think he has done it for England in the past so he has warranted his place in the England squad.”

Liverpool striker Andy Carroll will also travel to Euro 2012 after making a late charge in to the squad while team-mate Jordan Henderson is on Hodgson’s standby list and could be called up if Scott Parker fails to overcome an Achilles injury.