Downing keen to distance Stoke

Stewart Downing wants to put three points into Saturday's visitors Stoke City
Stewart Downing sees Saturday's visit of Stoke City as a key game in the Hammers' bid to secure a top-eight Barclays Premier League finish.

West Ham and the Potters go into the Boleyn Ground clash locked together on 42 points, so a victory could prove key in pulling away from the opponents.

After playing a central role in helping the Hammers come from 2-0 down at Stoke in October to claim a point - Downing scored one and set the other up - he is keen to go one better and win on Saturday.

“We’re on the same number of points, so it’s a massive game," Downing explained. "It was a difficult one when we played there and we got a draw out of it, but we’re at home now and I think Enner’s back for the weekend. Diafra is there too so we can have a right good go at them and get the goalscorers back in the team.
“It was a good game for me when we played earlier in the season, scoring one and setting Enner up too. It was a game of two halves – in the first half we were poor and didn’t get going, but in the second half we were really good.

“We need to get back to winning ways on Saturday because we don’t want the season to tail off – we want to finish as strongly as we can.”

Downing laid on a superb diving header for Enner Valencia at the Britannia Stadium and the No11 says having the Ecuador man back will be a major boost.

He added: “He’s a goal threat. He’s got pace, he’s powerful and he’s a threat to the other team. I thought he played ever so well, especially in the second half, at Stoke. Their defenders will know they’re in for a game.
“Him and Sakho have been a good partnership when Andy’s been out so it’ll be interesting what team the manager picks but I’m sure he’ll be in his thoughts and it’s nice to have him back.
“I’m sure the manager is happy to have those options. He has Carlton as well who will be itching to play. He did well when he came on against Sunderland at home.”