Stew relishing Merseyside return

West Ham United's in-form winger Stewart Downing is looking forward to returning to Merseyside on Saturday.

The former Liverpool wideman spent two years with the Reds between summer 2011 and 2013, playing four times against Everton, including an FA Cup semi-final victory at Wembley in April 2012.

Downing returned to Anfield in December, only to suffer a nasty heel injury as West Ham lost 4-1. Now, however, the Hammers and their England international return to Merseyside in confident mood after winning their previous four games.

"It's very enjoyable at the Club at the moment," said Dowing. "Everyone is back now from injury and suspension and that's what we've been waiting for. We've had a bit of luck along the way but I think we were due some.

"I'm happy personally because things are going quite well. The manager is obviously happy because the team is winning. We've been a bit lucky at times, but the last couple of weeks it's all come together.

"We're not out of the woods yet because we've still got games to win, starting at Everton at the weekend."

Everton have lost three of their last four Barclays Premier League matches - all away from home - but Downing is not expecting an easy ride against the Blues.

"Everton is always a difficult place to go, even when they're not playing that well. The crowd are really on top of you, Roberto Martinez is doing a good job there and his team is playing really well using different way of playing to how Everton have played.

"We should have got something from the game down here. They were two great free-kicks to be fair to Leighton Baines, but I think we can go there and get a result."

Downing will likely come into direct conflict with England left-back Baines, who is commonly considered to be the best left-back in the country at present, and in-form Republic of Ireland right-back Seamus Coleman.

"I always relish playing against the best players and I think Bainesy has probably gone up a level the last couple of years, even though he was always a good player. In terms of creating and scoring goals, I think he has been one of the top players, so it'll be a good test.

"Let's see if we can make him defend a bit more than he would like and hopefully we can put them on the back foot.

"I think Coleman has probably been one of their standout players. He has really come to the fore and he has played some good football under Roberto. His style suits the way they play.

"Then again, they like to go forward and attack, so we have to get them defending and get them into areas they don't want to go in. It's a good test for the widemen who start on the day."

While Everton will undoubtedly pose a threat on home turf, West Ham have carried one of their own in recent weeks, scoring nine goals and conceding just one in their last four league matches. The question posed to Downing was 'Why have the Hammers enjoyed such a resurgence?'.

"I think the team has been disjointed at lot of the time with people being out injured and having to play out of position, including key players, which has obviously made it difficult for the manager.

"The big thing is that we carried on doing what we're good at. A lot of clubs, you've seen panic and change their managers one or two times, but the big thing is that the Club has stuck to its guns and the Chairmen have backed the manager and the manager has backed the players. The players have always played for the manager and we've stuck together."

Downing has certainly benefitted from the form of Carlton Cole, with the pair playing their part in two goals in last weekend's home win over Southampton. On Saturday, Cole will be joined in the squad by Andy Carroll, who is available again after a three-man suspension.

The winger says manager Sam Allardyce has a welcome selection headache at Goodison Park.

"It's a difficult situation for the manager, but one he will probably like because he's not had one for six or seven months!

"It's obviously a big decision because Carlton has come in and done really well and earned himself a contract with his goals, while Andy is back to get some goals.

"Whoever starts is a good option and it makes it easy for us wingers because they are big target men and we can play off them. It's a difficult decision for the manager, but a good one to have."