When Roy Hodgson selected Andros Townsend to start in the recent Premier League clash against Chelsea, it was the 90th time the manager had utilised the winger in a game; a record number of appearances for any player during Hodgson’s tenure in south London so far.
Hodgson’s faith in the winger’s ability is a testament to Townsend’s professionalism and consistency, and it is a statistic that the former Tottenham Hotspur player is proud of – even if it was one that he didn’t know before.
Upon hearing the stat, Townsend appeared to have a moment of personal reflection, one that, if we were to guess, was of justification for the various decisions he would’ve made over his life.
All those years of sacrifice as a youngster, and several loan deals around the country, were all worth it to still be enjoying achievements at the top-level of the game as a 28-year-old.
Reflecting on his career so far in a crucial season, Townsend begins: “I didn’t know that until now but it’s obviously a huge achievement to be the most selected player. And it’s something I put down to a good relationship with the manager; he knows what he’s going to get from me, he knows he can rely on me.”
It’s somewhat endearing to see the pride that Hodgson’s continual faith in Townsend evokes, with the winger now bouncing a ball whilst skidding around on a computer chair after pensive reflection moments earlier, flying across the room to touch the wooden desk:
“And - touch wood - I’ve always made myself fit and available for him [Hodgson]; I’ve only missed two games through injury since he has been at the club. I’d say it’s a mixture of those two things that have seen me become the most selected player, and hopefully I can continue to be that player, too.”
If Townsend puts being Hodgson’s most used tool down to those two things, we’d also hypothesise it is also, in part, to do with his ability to be self-critical. That was something Townsend was capable of doing after losing his starting berth a couple of games into the current campaign.
“I think it was pretty obvious that, not only for me, but the team weren’t good enough in the first few games. We weren’t picking up points, weren’t creating chances.
“There was a time in training where I was struggling and he [Hodgson] pulled me to the side and said: ‘Look, we still believe in you, you might not be playing well at the minute or in the team at the minute but keep your head, keep doing what you’re doing and your chances will come.’ The next day I scored against Norwich City off the bench.
“When you aren’t creating chances, you aren’t scoring goals, so the attacking players are in danger of losing their place and I was one of them. I could’ve either sulked or used it to build up my confidence, build up my fitness in training in the week.”
Townsend took the opportunity to do exactly the latter, and when those substitute appearances were offered, he took the odd minutes here and there to demonstrate to Hodgson that the player he had selected so regularly was still available.
“Then I knew I had my confidence back and it was just a case of being patient and waiting for my chance to get back in to the starting XI. That came against Arsenal and we got a well-deserved point.”
The above is an excerpt from the matchday programme interview with Andros Townsend. Not only does the winger talk about his record under Hodgson, he offers a superb insight into life on loan with Connor Wickham, his role as a mentor and plenty more. If you can't wait until this afternoon to get a hard copy of the programme, then click below to order a digital version for just £1.99. It will land in your inbox on seconds.
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