Andros Townsend: I had to quit Newcastle for sake of England career

Andros Townsend says he had to get back to the Premier League to remain involved with England
Image: Andros Townsend says he had to get back to the Premier League to remain involved with England

Andros Townsend insists he had to quit Newcastle and return to the Premier League for the sake of his international career.

The 25-year-old made a good impact at St James' Park following his move there in January having previously struggled to hold down a place with old club Tottenham.

Newcastle's relegation saw Townsend transfer once again, this time to Crystal Palace, and his form there has seen him called up by interim England manager Gareth Southgate.

In as a replacement for the injured Raheem Sterling, he could play against Malta on Saturday and Townsend believes leaving Tyneside was the right decision in terms of getting back to his peak.

"It has been extremely frustrating. Looking back on it I got injured at the wrong time when I was flying high," he said. 

Andros Townsend goal celeb, Crystal Palace v Stoke, Premier League
Image: Townsend has impressed for Crystal Palace since his summer move there from Newcastle

"Then for a year or two I could not get back to the form I wanted to. But now, what is in the past is in the past and I proved at Newcastle I am still good enough to play in the Premier League.

"It gave me great confidence again and I got back in the England squad. Unfortunately, it did not work out for me there but now I am playing well for Palace and scoring goals again.

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"Obviously there is a bit of frustration that I could not kick on after my debut but I think I am in a good place again, I am happy with my form and I am playing well.

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"Roy (Hodgson) did say it didn't matter if I was playing in the Premier League or Championship but when he left I knew if I was playing in the Championship it would be nigh-on impossible to get in the squad so it was a factor in my decision.

"I really enjoyed my time at Newcastle, I make no secret of that. It did cross my mind to stay but I need to be playing Premier League football if I want to make the most of my career.

"A year taking a step back in the Championship when at Spurs I wasn't as playing as much as I'd have liked to, I decided I couldn't really do that.

Andros Townsend of Newcastle United and Carlos Sanchez of Aston Villa compete for the ball
Image: Townsend admits he did consider staying at Newcastle despite their relegation to the Championship

"I made the tough decision, I'm happy to be at Palace now, everything is going well, so hopefully it was the right decision."

England's second game of their World Cup qualifying double header sees them play in Slovenia on Tuesday on the third anniversary of Townsend's international debut.

Back then, he scored in a 4-1 win over Montenegro - but the winger maintains he is a more rounded player now.

"Three years ago is a long time ago and I don't want to compare myself to a previous time,"said Townsend. 

"Three years ago, I only scored one goal in the Premier League all season.

Raheem Sterling of England shows his frustration
Image: Townsend was called into the squad after Raheem Sterling withdrew through injury

"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.

"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.

Gareth Southgate, Coach of England U21s, during the Toulon Tournament match between Japan and England at the Stade Leo Lagrange on May 27 2016
Image: Gareth Southgate's reign as interim England manager starts with a home game against Malta

"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.

"Thankfully I have been given the chance through someone else's misfortune and hopefully I can make the most of it."

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