Townsend's ability excites Venables
Former England boss Terry Venables believes Andros Townsend is the missing ingredient that can ensure Roy Hodgson's men really make an impact at next summer's World Cup.
Townsend burst on to the international stage in sensational fashion earlier this month, producing a couple of scintillating performances against Montenegro and Poland that booked England's passage into next summer's finals.
Given the 22-year-old had been loaned out on nine occasions by Tottenham, Townsend's form came as a surprise to some.
Not Venables though. He continues to keep a close eye on events at White Hart Lane and he always felt Townsend was capable of being something special.
"All those loan periods count for nothing," said Venables.
"It didn't matter whether he had been to one club or a hundred, the only thing he should be judged on is how he plays in any particular game.
"The fact is he has a lot of things going for him.
"Andros has fantastic awareness and his raw pace is always going to make it difficult for defenders.
"He has this ability to hug the touchline, go fast, but still have time to look up to see what he wants to hit in the middle.
"Even when he runs out of space, he has a repertoire of other crosses in his locker; cut-backs, back post, near post.
"It is still early for him but we are all excited about the future because of the performances he has put in."
For Venables, it means Hodgson has the perfect blend to tackle the world's very best nations.
"At times people have said there are too many experienced players, at others too many young players.
"I look at that group and think it is one of the best.
"The experienced players need the legs of the younger ones. The younger players need the help of the older ones."
Few expect England to emulate the heroics of 1966, yet, as the curtain is being brought down on the Football Association's 150th anniversary, there is genuine optimism for the future.
Saturday's gala dinner was a fitting tribute to the organisation founded in the same Grand Connaught Rooms a century and a half earlier.
Football Association president, the Duke of Cambridge, spoke of his passion for the sport, lamenting the recent failings of his own favourite team, Aston Villa.
Lord Bragg showed a shortened version of his own documentary about the game's origins, whilst Hodgson, FA chairman Greg Dyke and FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter, for in excess of 20 minutes, all spoke with warmth about the FA and English football in general.
Not everything in the garden is rosy though.
Dyke's commission has attracted plenty of negative publicity.
The grumbles are in danger of obscuring the reason Dyke felt action was needed in the first place, namely the decreasing number of young English players breaking into the top flight.
"There is a cocktail of things to look at," said Venables.
"We need to know who is going to make us be able to develop young players at world level because that is what we need.
"How do we get them? And how do we get them to play?
"The implementation of St George's Park will help with the improvement of coaches. That should ensure we have good teachers to the players we have already, whose job it is for them not to get left behind.
"If you look at some of the other countries, both Holland and Germany seem able to continually reach the latter stages of big tournaments, whilst at the same time developing young players who turn out to be world class in years to come.
"Our task is to do exactly the same thing."
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