Former Arsenal star Paul Merson was very critical of Roy Hodgson’s decision to select Newcastle United star Andros Townsend for the England national team for the upcoming European Championship.
His main criticism regarding Townsend’s selection was the fact that the winger only ‘turned up’ during the final few games of the season and as a result, he never really deserved a place in the Three Lions’ squad.
Merson perhaps has a point and Roy Hodgson has most certainly gained a notorious reputation of employing favoritism whenever he makes a selection for the national team.
In truth, the call up earned by the likes of Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph are equally questionable but unlike the aforementioned trio, Townsend’s inclusion can be justified.
Leaving any Newcastle bias aside, Townsend certainly did not enjoy the best of campaigns after spending the first half of the season at Tottenham with the kids and he did take quite a while to get going at St. James’ Park as well following a £12million January move.
Nonetheless, Townsend’s form during the final six games of the season was simply superb as he scored crucial goals against Swansea City and Crystal Palace, and his contribution was perhaps the most important one in helping Newcastle give themselves hope of avoiding relegation.
Unfortunately, Townsend was unable to save the Magpies but on a personal level, the 24-year-old would surely have been very pleased with his performance and it would be hard to find a more in-form player in the Premier League over the last two months of the campaign.
Admittedly, selection for such a big tournament would be better off done on the basis of performances throughout the year rather than just a few games and many feel that West Ham’s Michail Antonio deserved a place ahead of Townsend.
However, Townsend was forced to miss the first half of the season at Tottenham due to his attitude problem and while one should not condone such behavior, the winger certainly buckled down to prove his worth at Newcastle.
Perhaps most importantly though, Townsend’s advantage over Antonio is the fact that he already has international experience under his belt and also has the trust of Hodgson. On the basis of statistics, Antonio should be on the plane but Hodgson clearly does not rate the West Ham man and he would perhaps be a waste of a space if he had indeed headed to France.
Townsend is unlikely to start for England, who are priced at 8/1(10Bet) to go all the way in France, but he does have the X-Factor to change the course of any game when thrown on as a sub and overall, Hodgson has perhaps made the correct decision in including the Newcastle star in his squad.