Townsend answers critics with goal

Published: Wednesday 1st April 2015 by The News Editor

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Andros Townsend is looking forward to hearing what Paul Merson has to say for himself after he responded to jibes from the former Arsenal midfielder in the best way possible.

After Harry Kane’s heroics against Lithuania, it was Townsend’s turn to play the role of England super sub against Italy on Tuesday night.

The Tottenham winger scored a stunning equaliser from 20 yards nine minutes after entering the pitch at the Juventus Stadium.

Within minutes of the 1-1 draw finishing, Townsend took to Twitter to poke fun at Merson, who said the 23-year-old should be “nowhere near the (England) squad” after an inconsistent year with Tottenham.

Townsend hit back by posting: “Not bad for a player that should be ‘nowhere near the squad’ ay @PaulMerse ?”

Townsend’s father Troy got in on the act too, tweeting “Oh ye of little faith #Merson Get in………..”

Merson was quiet on Tuesday night, and Townsend cannot wait to hear how he responds.

“I am eagerly awaiting it,” the Tottenham winger said with a smile that did not disappear for one second during his round of post-match interviews.

“As soon as the squad was announced two weeks ago, it has been going over in my head. He said it when the squad was announced – that I should be nowhere near the squad.

“As soon as the goal went in, I was just desperate to get that tweet out!

“It didn’t really annoy me. It had kind of just given me the extra incentive to silence a few critics and hopefully I have done that as I always have done.”

Townsend has had enough highs and lows in his career to know the sweet right-foot drive into the bottom corner of Gianluigi Buffon’s goal does not mean the critics will be silenced forever.

Less than a year after scoring an equally breath-taking goal on his international debut against Montenegro in October 2013, Townsend could not hold down a first-team place at Tottenham, let alone England.

Townsend started just two Barclays Premier League games before the turn of the year, but he is now a regular under Mauricio Pochettino.

A level-headed and grounded man, he knows competition is so tough at club and international level he must continue improving.

“I have still got things to prove to people,” he said.

“You can never stop proving things to people, but I think every time I have put on an England shirt I have done myself justice, I have done Roy Hodgson justice and the nation justice.

“I was a bit disappointed with (Merson’s) comments but again I have come on the pitch tonight and silenced them.

“I don’t think I am at my best form but this is the best form I have produced this season.

“I am slowly building my confidence back to where it was and hopefully from now until the end of the season, I can get more games in the Spurs team and for England in the summer and get back to the football I was producing last season.”

Townsend will take fond memories and a special memento back to England with him on Wednesday.

The midfielder made a beeline for Buffon at the final whistle as he wanted his shirt.

“He is a top goalkeeper – one of the best to ever play the game – so to score past him I thought was no mean feat,” Townsend said.

“As soon as the whistle went, I thought I’d go and get his shirt because it is a real night to savour for me.”

Townsend was happy to see Kane enjoy his first two appearances for England.

“I have always said he is the best finisher I have ever played with,” Townsend said of the 30-goal striker.

“People used to laugh at me but now I think I should get a job as a scout!”

The fact that England have only beaten the Azzurri twice in Italy shows how creditable the draw was, but the visitors were poor in the first half and Hodgson knows improvement is necessary.

“We have definitely moved on from the World Cup, but we have a lot more moving on to do because it is still obvious that we cannot just turn it on like we the coaches would like to see the players turn it on,” the England manager said.

Published: Wednesday 1st April 2015 by The News Editor

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