Speaking regretfully, former NUFC winger Andros Townsend says he’s hoping he hasn’t played his last game for England, with it looking almost certain that the Palace man won’t be on the plane to Russia this summer.
This coming from a man who jumped ship at Newcastle United following relegation in 2016, stating he had to ‘use his head over his heart’ and find a Premier League team who could keep his England hopes alive.
Ironically, Roy Hodgson told him (back when he was England manager) that it didn’t matter if he was playing in the Championship (in relation to a call-up), however he still left, hoping that Alan Pardew could ‘take his game to another level’ (his own words!).
Fast forward two years and he’s not made an England squad since November 2016, playing just 43 minutes of football on the one occasion he did.
Ironically, he’s said this week that he’s putting Palace first (above and England call-up) – it’s just a shame he couldn’t have that sort of approach following our relegation two years ago, with him seeming intent on putting his England hopes above NUFC back then.
Here’s what he’s had to say today when reflecting on his England career, with him looking almost certain to miss out on this summer’s World Cup:
“I believe in my ability and that I can get into the England squad again, but when you are towards the bottom of the league you have to do something special to get in.
“My last cap was at 25. To not get another would be disappointing, but I cherish every cap I won.
“Thirteen caps is a lot more than most get.
“It’s no secret that I owe a lot to Roy Hodgson because he gave me my first caps. I am extremely grateful to him…and at club level he has given me the confidence to keep going.
“We have not (recently) spoken about it (being left out of Hodgson’s 2016 Euros squad), the last time we spoke about that was when he told me his decision.
“At the time, I was devastated because I was in great form for Newcastle.
“But six months before that I was playing for Spurs reserves. That put things into perspective.”
I remember the whole Townsend camp seeming as though he left Newcastle with a great deal of regret, but at the end of the day he was happy to swap Benitez for Pardew, he wasn’t prepared to ‘risk’ a year in the Championship (for a club that risked £14m on him) and put himself first all in the name of a potential England call-up.
His performances at Newcastle were probably the best of his career and I actually think he could’ve made the squad if he’d continued to thrive in Rafa’s side over the past two seasons.
It’s no surprise, however, that he’s struggled to stand out so much at Palace, playing under inferior managers and often being outshined by Zaha on the other flank.
Newcastle and Rafa Benitez did wonders for Townsend, a player who was fast becoming a crowd favourite on Tyneside.
I have fond memories of his brief spell at St James’, but I also have little sympathy for him and his struggling international career a few years from him turning his back on the club that practically saved him from Spurs’ reserves.
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