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Downing: Elder statesman Friedel still top-class

Date set for FA Cup clash against Man City or Notts County Quality quartet selected for England U21 duty
Downing: Elder statesman Friedel still top-class

By Paul Brown

Stewart Downing admits Brad Friedel is in for dressing room stick after becoming Villa's oldest-ever player - but insists on the pitch he's still first-class.

Veteran ace Friedel broke the record of Ernie 'Mush' Callaghan when he stepped out on the field at Old Trafford.

Callaghan was 39 years and 257 days when he played against Grimsby Town in 1947 but Friedel was two days older when he played against the Red Devils.

Downing thinks that his performance against Manchester United - and some of his second half saves - demonstrate the USA legend still has what it takes to excel at the highest level.

He said: "We found out before the game that Brad became the oldest player to play for Villa. We didn't say anything at the time but I'm sure he'll get a bit of stick from the lads now.

"It is great for him and absolutely brilliant that he is still playing games at his age.

"For someone who is 39, he performs time and again. If it wasn't for him, United could have scored a lot more.

"Brad has been first class since he came to the club - especially since I've been here. He has been absolutely brilliant and has won some games on his own, so credit to him.

"He looks after himself, is a good professional, and I think he can definitely carry on.

"Some of the saves he made against United were great - when I came off I was in the changing room and I saw a few of the saves on the television and they were top class.

"I think you need a good goalkeeper in your side and we've got that.

"I know Brad has being doing this yoga which has helped him. We did it a few times at Middlesbrough and I know a lot of the goalkeepers at our place have been doing it a lot. I think some of the older lads tend to use it when they get older to help keep themselves flexible and keep themselves away from little injuries so if looks like it seems to work.

"Ryan Giggs uses it and he runs around like he is still 17 so there must be something in it."

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By @AVFCOfficial 3rd February 2011
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