Belfast Telegraph

Andros Townsend ready for Rafa Benitez reunion

Andros Townsend returns to Newcastle with Crystal Palace striving to avoid the relegation he suffered at St James' Park.

The winger excelled under Rafael Benitez during their short time together in the north east when they narrowly failed to lead Newcastle to safety.

He then left for Palace when then-manager Alan Pardew triggered his £13million release clause, but for the third season in succession is in a battle against relegation.

Palace impressed in last week's 2-1 defeat of Chelsea when Townsend - working again with Roy Hodgson, who oversaw some of his finest performances with England - produced perhaps his best display since that transfer in 2016.

If they can avoid defeat at Newcastle they will gain a sense of momentum not felt since last season's push for safety under Sam Allardyce, and Townsend said: "I'm not sure I'll get a good reception but I had a fantastic time there.

"Unfortunately it didn't end well but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there with the fans and I'm looking forward to going there and see a few familiar faces. I'll enjoy it.

"Ultimately we are going there for business, to win a football match and that's all I'm focused on.

"It's similar in the way (Hodgson and Allardyce) work. They like to do a lot on the training field; very hands on, the pair of them. They like to go through every scenario that will occur on the pitch so that when it occurs you are ready for it.

"Like Sam, it wasn't a quick fix: we didn't initially pick up results but eventually you saw how well we were playing towards the end of last season and I've no doubt in my mind that we'll get to that again under Roy."

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