Belfast Telegraph

I put England call-up ahead of Magpies love affair, says Townsend

By Mark Ogden

Andros Townsend says he turned his back on a love affair with Newcastle United in order to save his England career. Townsend goes into the World Cup qualifiers at home to Malta tomorrow and away to Slovenia on Tuesday approaching the third anniversary of his goalscoring debut against Lithuania.

And the 25-year-old, who left the Magpies for Crystal Palace this summer after just six months on Tyneside, has reclaimed his place in the international squad having been selected by interim manager Gareth Southgate as a replacement for the injured Raheem Sterling.

Despite being unable to help Newcastle avoid relegation during his 13 games for the club, Townsend nonetheless broke into Roy Hodgson's provisional squad for Euro 2016 before failing to make the final 23-man travelling party to France.

But having earned the affection of the Newcastle supporters during his brief stint at St James' Park, Townsend admits he has been forced to endure criticism for leaving the club.

"Yes of course (I have had stick), but it is to be expected," Townsend said.

"If they weren't too bothered about me leaving it would have meant that I didn't do a good job.

"But the fact that they were giving me stick just means that I did well there.

"Obviously I would have liked to have stayed but it wasn't meant to be.

"I played well enough in the time I was there, I gave my all to keep the club up.

"I got the opportunity to stay in the Premier League and I had to take it."

Townsend's £13m move to Selhurst Park has seen the former Tottenham winger reproduce the form he displayed under Rafael Benitez at Newcastle.

"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," he said.

"I made the tough decision. Everyone on the outside goes 'ahh he's left Newcastle, gone to Palace, it must be about the money'. But nobody seems to think us players are actually motivated about getting the best out of themselves, making the most of our career, playing in the greatest division in the world.

"I knew if I was playing in the Championship it was nigh on impossible to get in the squad so it was a factor in my decision."

Belfast Telegraph


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