07 Oct Townsend: Great to be back
England winger Andros Townsend has vowed to force his way back into the Three Lions side.
The Crystal Palace star, who made his senior England debut three years ago, has only 11 caps and has missed the last two major tournaments.
He replaced the injured Raheem Sterling in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta on Saturday and Slovenia on Tuesday after initially being left out.
But, after joining Crystal Palace from relegated Newcastle in the summer, Townsend is out to prove he deserves to stay in the England set-up.
He said: “It’s nice to be back. I missed the last few trips. Now I’m back and hopefully I can make the most of it.
“I didn’t know Raheem was out. I got a call Monday afternoon to say I was replacing somebody. I have been happy with my form, I started a little bit slowly, didn’t make the first squad but I was happy with my form, and thankfully I have been given the chance through someone else’s misfortune and hopefully I can make the most of it.”
Townsend scored on his England debut, a 4-1 win over Montenegro, but missed the 2014 World Cup with an ankle injury and was left out of Roy Hodgson’s final Euro 2016 squad.
But a lack of game time at former club Tottenham – he made only three appearances in the Premier League in the first half of last season – hampered him and he is eager to progress again.
He said: “Three years ago is a long time ago and I don’t want to compare myself to a previous time. Three years ago, I only scored one goal in the Premier League all season. Maybe I was taking people on more, but now I have matured a lot and am getting crosses early into the box. That is getting me more assists and hopefully I am getting more goals.”
The 25-year-old joined Palace after just six months at Newcastle following the Magpies’ relegation from the Premier League last season.
He insisted Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez understood his decision but accepted he upset the fans.
“He texted to congratulate me on my England call-up. He understood and all is well there,” he said.
“I understand why people were frustrated, why some people were upset. I’d like to think personally I played well enough in the time I was there, I gave my all to keep the club. At one point it looked like we were going to stay up but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I got the opportunity to stay in the Premier League and I had to take it.”