Andros Townsend: Fans loved me at Newcastle - it was hard to leave

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Andros Townsend says his heart told him to continue playing in the Premier League. Watch the full interview on Soccer Saturday

Andros Townsend has admitted it was "extremely difficult" to leave Newcastle but says he is determined to continue the form that prompted his £13m switch to Crystal Palace.

Having been frozen out by Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino at the beginning of last season, Townsend made the switch to Newcastle and despite relegation from the Premier League, he quickly became a fan favourite at St James' Park.

That appreciation from the supporters was not lost on Townsend - who is preparing to make his Premier League debut for Palace against West Brom on Saturday - and the winger believes the time spent on Tyneside helped to reinvigorate his career.

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CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 16: Andros Townsend #17 of Crystal Palace FC controls the ball during the match against FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium on July 16,
Image: Andros Townsend is set to make his Premier League debut for Crystal Palace on Saturday

Speaking to Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday, he said: "Listen, I loved every minute of it, they (Newcastle) took me from the U21s at Spurs to playing Premier League football in front of 52,000, they got the best out of me.

"The fans loved me, Rafa Benitez got the best out of me and it was extremely difficult to leave where you are loved, compared to a place where you are not so loved.

"I had a very productive time there, unfortunately it was not enough to stay in the Premier League. I had to think long and hard in the summer about what I wanted to do; stay and play in the Championship did cross my mind, but in the end I had to go with my head and not my heart.

Rafa Benitez Newcastle United's manager hugs Andros Townsend after Premier League win over Crystal Palace
Image: Townsend credited Rafa Benitez for getting the best out of him

"I did not want to take a drop down, especially while the options were still there in the Premier League."

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With four goals in his 13 appearances for Newcastle - including a stunning free-kick in the 1-0 win over his current employees last May - the 25-year-old joked that it very well could have been that superb effort which convinced Alan Pardew to recruit him.

"Possibly, but in that game, I didn't have the best of games, he (Pardew) said he had seen clips of me beforehand, so maybe from the clips, he felt there was enough to bring me here. If I can bring goals like I did against Palace, for Palace, then I'll be doing alright."

Andros Townsend hopes to be a part of England's Euro 2016 squad
Image: The 11-cap winger wants to force himself back into the England side

Having thrust himself into the international limelight with a wonderful goal against Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier in 2013, the winger has been in and out of the England set-up over the past few years and although he did not make Roy Hodgson's final 23-man squad for Euro 2016, Townsend believes the door is very much open for a return to new boss Sam Allardyce's squad.

"Yeah of course, if I am playing week-in-week-out, scoring goals and getting assists, it is only going to benefit me and England."

Watch the full interview with Andros Townsend on Soccer Saturday from midday on Sky Sports News HQ.

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