Andros Townsend Proves He Deserves Regular Starts with Strong England Showing
Not often a pioneer of adventurous, attacking football, Roy Hodgson went against type for England’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Montenegro.
The boldest decision he made in his team selection was starting Tottenham winger Andros Townsend on the right of midfield.
It was a tremendous show of faith by the England manager. It was, after all, Townsend’s first-ever appearance in an England shirt.
With Theo Walcott out with an injury, the general consensus was that Hodgson would opt for the pragmatic qualities of James Milner. But he gave Townsend his chance—a deserved chance, it must be said—and he took it wholeheartedly.
Townsend was superb throughout the contest for England. As a left-footed player cutting in from the right-hand side, it can sometimes be difficult to find space, especially against a team like Montenegro who were looking to stay solid and compact.
But the Tottenham man found a way of getting into the game. He came short, ran in behind and drifted into central areas looking to get involved in the play and make things happen for his country.
He was involved in everything good about England’s attacking exploits. With the Three Lions struggling for a break at 0-0, Townsend made a lung-busting 70-yard run down the right touchline that ended with a dangerous cross only half cleared by the Montenegro defence.
Wayne Rooney was on hand to take advantage and England subsequently were up and running.
Then, with the game in the balance at 2-1, it got even better for the 22-year-old. Townsend took the ball off Danny Welbeck with vigour and burst forward before ripping a swerving strike across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.
The fact that he struck it on his right foot, his weaker foot, made it all the more impressive.
Townsend just played his natural game. He didn’t shirk at the sight of the Wembley arch or shrink at the sight of 90,000 spectators. He just did what he has been doing so well for Tottenham: playing direct, attacking football.
It was a seriously impressive display on debut. Not only in terms of the quality Townsend obviously has at his disposal, but the mental strength and self-confidence to come through in a game of that magnitude.
Granted, there is pressure every time you step foot on to the pitch in the Premier League. But England is another level entirely. The scrutiny is magnified and the public reaction amplified. The fact that this sort of spotlight didn’t faze Townsend is in itself just as impressive as his actual on-field performance.
Who would you start on the right flank for England?
But he needs to keep playing and to keep impressing. Walcott will be back from injury soon and you suspect he will be Townsend’s biggest competitor for that berth on the right side of midfield.
Townsend has a host of names to compete with at Tottenham, but he must keep his place in that team.
First-team football has been so crucial to his development and will continue to be as important if he is to get even better. Just look at the progress he has made since his loan move to QPR in January and subsequent spell in the first-team with Tottenham.
He recognises that himself and spoke of the significance of playing regular football (from Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph).
Going to QPR was almost make or break. I have confidence in my own ability, but until you show people you can play in the Premier League that counts for nothing
Up to now, he's doing exactly that. Now the task is to do it not only with Tottenham, but England, too.
Remarkably, Townsend has been keeping Tottenham’s £30 million record signing Erik Lamela on the bench.
From an English point of view, long may it continue.
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