Sam Allardyce praises contribution made by Andros Townsend
Sam Allardyce has praised the contribution Andros Townsend has made towards Crystal Palace's revival and the way he has proved he can play alongside Wilfried Zaha.
The winger, 25, was instrumental in the way they recovered from two down in Saturday's 2-2 home draw with Leicester, using impressive speed and footwork to create Christian Benteke's equalising goal.
He has rediscovered the belief with which he excelled at Newcastle last season and which has been absent at Palace until the recent improvement that has taken them to the brink of survival, and Allardyce believes his influence cannot be overlooked.
Earlier in the season Allardyce's predecessor Alan Pardew omitted Townsend from his starting XI after the winger, having struggled on the left, asked to play in Zaha's favoured position on the right.
Under Allardyce he is again settled, playing largely on the left, and finally justifying the £13million they paid to recruit him and the faith placed in him when Yannick Bolasie was sold to Everton.
"He's changed his attitude, to believing in himself and performing to his very, very best," said the manager, 62.
"When he's in possession, he's starting to run at defenders, he wants to run at full-backs every time he gets the ball; he believes he can beat them inside, outside, and (against Leicester) he made a very important cross for the second goal.
"It's all rubbish, that (the debate over his favoured wing). Why bother? If you want to come and play on the left, play on the left. If you want to come and play on the right, play on the right.
"Go and do what you want: you can play down the left and the right. With the confidence he's in: a wide man should not be saying 'I can only play on this side'.
"I'll play you where I want you to go and play your best. Why say 'I can only play this position'? 'If I play two positions, gaffer, that's two chances you've got to play me'.
"And what does a player want to do? Play. So if you've got two positions to play in you've got a better chance of getting selected."
A bigger concern for Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare than his team's squandering of a two-goal lead could be his central defensive options for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final second leg with Atletico Madrid.
Their 1-0 defeat in Spain has kept them in contention to reach the competition's final four, but Robert Huth is suspended and concerns surround the fitness of captain Wes Morgan and Yohan Benalouane.
Left-back Christian Fuchs concluded Saturday's fixture at Selhurst Park in central defence, and Shakespeare revealed he will be in contention to start there on Tuesday.
"It's an option but at this stage I'm not clear in my head because I'm not sure of the injury situation," he said. "All I'm concentrating on is that the players stay focused.
"We don't know how many points the other teams are going to get because if the others go on a run we'll have to put as many points on the board (to ensure Premier League survival) as we can. At this moment in time we don't know."