Hodgson: Townsend can dazzle again

28 February 2014 04:16

England manager Roy Hodgson has challenged Andros Townsend to repeat the show-stopping performance he produced on his debut against Montenegro.

Townsend gave one of the best England debut displays in recent memory last October when he scored a stunning goal in the 4-1 win over the Balkan nation.

The winger followed that performance up with another encouraging display against Poland, but since then the 22-year-old has endured a difficult few months.

A niggling hamstring injury has restricted Townsend to just four Premier League starts since that memorable night at Wembley.

The player's last league start, incredibly, was on November 10.

But Hodgson had no qualms about including the Tottenham player in his 30-man squad for next Wednesday's friendly against Denmark.

"We hope he can still have the same impact (as he did in October)," the England manager said.

"He deserves to be in this 30. I didn't want to leave him out of this squad because he has had the injury and had not got back into the Tottenham team yet.

"I have shown him, I hope, that I have got faith in him and I hope he is going to do well and show me what he can do. He certainly did in October. He repaid my faith enormously.

"Now he has got to repay my faith in amongst this 30 and in the next couple of months by playing well for Tottenham."

When he is fully fit, Townsend is one of the most fearsome wingers in the country.

His raw pace and eye for goal make him a nightmare to defend against so there is no wonder the England manager saw it fit to recall the midfielder, who now has four caps.

But even though Theo Walcott is out of the World Cup, Townsend faces stiff competition for a place in Hodgson's 23-man party.

Raheem Sterling is enjoying a superb season with Liverpool while Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are other, more versatile options.

Another player called up by Hodgson on Thursday who can operate out wide is Southampton man Jay Rodriguez.

Unlike Townsend, Rodriguez endured a rather uninspiring debut last November when he was taken off at half-time against Chile.

The 24-year-old has scored eight goals for Southampton since then, though, and Hodgson has been happy with the way the former Burnley man has responded.

"I am very pleased that taking him off at half-time has not damaged him in any way and in fact he is playing even better now than when we selected him," the England boss said.

"I think he fully deserves his place among that group of forward players and he will be one of those putting the others under pressure for a place in the 23.

"He's in the 30 on merit."

Rodriguez is one of four Southampton players in the squad for Wednesday's friendly against Denmark.

Rickie Lambert, Lallana and the uncapped Luke Shaw were also named in Hodgson's party for the game at Wembley.

Source: PA