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Townsend’s contribution crystal clear to Palace boss Hodgson

Former England boss values 26-year-old.

Roy Hodgson believes Crystal Palace’s unsung hero Andros Townsend is a superior player now to the one who once inspired England.

The winger, 26, has been a rare, consistent figure for the club during a troubled season in which many of those around him have suffered from injury.

Townsend became one of Palace’s leaders in their absence, guiding the promising Aaron Wan-Bissaka through his first senior appearances and again thriving alongside the more celebrated Wilfried Zaha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek since their returns.

He has even impressed when injuries meant him playing out of position in an unorthodox front two, and his club manager – who gave him his international debut and was rewarded with the displays that ensured England’s qualification to the 2014 World Cup – feels he has been wrongly overlooked.

“With England he was just a flying winger, wasn’t he?” said Hodgson of a player once considered one of England’s most exciting prospects. “He has shown this season that he can do a lot more than be a flying winger. He can play as one of two wide forwards playing much more centrally.

“He has also shown defensive aspects to his play that perhaps were not quite so eminent. All I am concerned about is that he does what we would like him to do every day on the training ground and every matchday.

“Andros has played all but one game, two games – I know he’s made at least 32 starts out of 34, which is a fantastic achievement because he’s also had to battle through certain injury problems, but his determination and desire to get on the field has got him through that.

“His work-rate and determination to do well for the team has been extremely valuable, and it can’t be shown in the type of statistics that people like to show, i.e. ‘He’s scored lots and lots of goals and made lots and lots of assists’, but he has assisted. He’s assisted us in so many ways.

“It’s right to mention Andros; we’re very, very pleased with him. He’s another one who takes his job very seriously, and takes keeping Crystal Palace in the Premier League very seriously, and we’re delighted we have people like him and Wilfried Zaha to help us in our cause.”

Palace on Saturday visit Watford, where a further three points will take them even closer to preserving their Premier League status, and where Jeffrey Schlupp could return from an ankle injury.

“A lot of contributions get overlooked,” the 70-year-old Palace manager continued of Townsend. “The questions always revolve around a couple of individuals, and managers will always love the opportunity to actually praise people who are doing a fantastic job but who don’t catch the headlines.”

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