England v Malta: Andros Townsend hoping to reclaim his place on international stage

Andors Townesend was called into Englands squad when Raheem Sterling withdrew.
Andors Townesend was called into Englands squad when Raheem Sterling withdrew.
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ENGLAND winger Andros Townsend has vowed to forced his way back into the Three Lions side.

The Crystal Palace star only has 11 caps since making his debut three years ago and has also missed the last two major tournaments.

He replaced the injured Raheem Sterling in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta tomorrow 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 with England.

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 only made three substitute 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 manager 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.”

England-born goalkeeper Andrew Hogg, who is preparing to play for Malta against England tomorow, says he sympathises with Joe Hart following his sudden exit from Manchester City.

Hogg, 31, was born and lived in Surrey until he was five when his half-English father relocated the family to the Mediterranean island. Outside of international breaks he plies his trade with local side Hibernians and is preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime ‘homecoming’ at Wembley, when he can expect to be much busier than his opposite number.

But Hogg has watched with interest as Hart was jettisoned by Pep Guardiola over a perceived flaw in his distribution, eventually heading to Torino on loan.

“I’ve followed Joe’s situation quite a lot and, yes, I feel sorry for him,” Hogg said.

“Goalkeeping is changing, for sure, I’ve seen the same thing playing in Greece and even in Malta. Even though the quality is not the same they are all looking for goalkeepers who can pass.

“I understand the reasoning of the Manchester City coach, it makes sense, but at the end of the day it happens and you have to deal with whatever football or life throws at you.”