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Newcastle winger pushing for England Euro 2016 spot

A few months ago, the prospect of Andros Townsend making England's Euro 2016 squad seemed incredibly remote.

Townsend has impressed since swapping Spurs for Newcastle. Credit: Oulala

Deemed surplus to requirements by a team brimming with English talent, the brave winger swapped title-chasing Spurs for a relegation scrap at Newcastle.

With a consecutive run of games under his belt on Tyneside, Townsend is once again showing why Roy Hodgson handed him an England debut in 2013, and a further nine caps in 2014 and 2015.

The stats from Oulala show that since joining Newcastle in 2016, Townsend has outperformed three players vying for a similar Three Lions role this summer – Theo Walcott, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

When comparing the four players like-for-like, Townsend has scored more goals, created more goals, produced more key and successful passes, won more tackles and pulled off a greater number of interceptions.

The figures are overwhelming and Townsend clearly should get the nod based on current form, but has he done enough to convince Hodgson?

Practice makes perfect for Andros Townsend

Andros Townsend has revealed the free-kick which hauled Newcastle out of the relegation zone was honed on Tottenham's training pitches.

Just a few months ago, the 24-year-old England international was out of favour at White Hart Lane and training with the second team, although all the while, he was awaiting his next chance.

That came when the Magpies invested £12million in his services in January, and his most telling contribution yet came on Saturday when he smashed a 58th-minute free-kick past Crystal Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey to clinch three priceless points.

Townsend said: "At the back end of last year, I used to stay out for hours practising free-kicks, left foot then right foot.

"It was frustrating, but all that hard work on the training field eventually pays off. It paid off in dividends against Palace - in front of 52,000 fans."

It was Townsend's fourth goal in 11 appearances in a black and white shirt and his third in the last five, but it was by some distance the most important yet.

He said: "I have scored goals when we were 5-0 down and 3-0 down, then a third goal in a 3-0 win against Swansea. But this is what you live for, moments like this when your team really needs it.

"I'm glad to repay the faith and hopefully in the last two games, I can contribute with more goals and assists."

Townsend and his team-mates have two games left in which to secure what just a few weeks ago looked like an unlikely escape, and they know they may have to win both - away to relegated Aston Villa and at home to high-flying Tottenham - if they are to survive.

However, with relegation rivals Sunderland and Norwich both having a game in hand, even that may not prove enough during what is sure to be a dramatic conclusion to the campaign.


Lineker: Hodgson 'neither a racist nor a comedian'

Former England striker Gary Lineker has tweeted that the national team's manager, Roy Hodgson, is "neither a racist nor a comedian" after criticism of a joke he made at half-time during a World Cup qualifier against Poland.

Anti-racist campaigners back FA on Hodgson joke

Kick It Out, the campaign against racism in football, have backed the FA's statement in support of England coach Roy Hodgson after his half-time joke during a World Cup qualifier against Poland.

The Kick It Out campaign has backed the FA's statement of support for England coach Roy Hodgson Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The campaigners said they were "pleased" the matter had been investigated swiftly by the FA, adding: "If there has been no complaint on the back of the investigation then the matter can only be deemed as concluded."

FA backs Roy Hodgson over half-time joke

The Football Association has given its "full support" to England football coach Roy Hodgson after he was criticised for a joke he made at half-time during a World Cup qualifier with Poland.

FA Chairman Greg Dyke has backed England football coach Roy Hodgson Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire/Press Association Images

FA Chairman Greg Dyke said Roy Hodgson "is a man of the highest integrity, an honourable man who is doing a great job with the England team. He has and deserves the full support of The Football Association".

In a statement on the FA website, Dyke added: “He has made clear there was no intent to say anything inappropriate, and he was certainly not making any comments with any racist connotation. Importantly, he has apologised for any unintended offence that may have been taken."

The FA said it had not received any complaints from the players after talking to the squad "extensively" to determine whether they had any problems with Hodgson's behaviour.

“He has fully explained to us what he said and the point he was making to the players in the dressing room at half-time on Tuesday night," Dyke said.

"He has also explained the context in which he made his remarks."


Collymore defends Hodgson against 'race gaffe' row

Former England footballer Stan Collymore has defended Roy Hodgson after the England manager was forced to apologise for a half time joke.

The former Liverpool and Nottingham Forest striker went as far as suggesting the row was undermining efforts to fight racism in the sport.

Wayne Rooney and Andros Townsend have both defended their manager and questioned why there has been such furore over the incident.

However, equality group Kick It Out have called for an investigation into the comments.

Kick It Out call for investigation into Hodgson joke

Equality group Kick It Out have called for an investigation into comments made by Roy Hodgson at half time of England's 2-0 win over Poland.

Hodgson, 66, told a joke about an astronaut and a space monkey to illustrate the need for Chris Smalling to get the ball to Andros Townsend in the second half.

Roy Hodgson has apologised for any offence caused by his half time joke Credit: PA Wire

In a statement, the group said: "Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, recognises and shares the concerns of the parties who felt mindful to bring the comments into the public domain.

"The matter has been raised by the Chair, Lord Herman Ouseley, directly with The Football Association (FA), who acknowledges the apology made by Roy Hodgson, and now seeks an investigation to ascertain the full facts and ensure a similar situation does not arise again."

Townsend: 'No offence was meant and none was taken'

Andros Townsend has insisted he did not take offence to Roy Hodgson's half time joke.

The England manager was forced to apologise after making a joke about a space monkey during a half time team talk.

Townsend tweeted:

The Spurs winger has impressed in England's last two friendlies, scoring the third goal in the 4-1 victory over Montenegro.

England booked their place at the World Cup next summer after a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley on Tuesday.

Roy Hodgson forced to apologise after half time joke

England manager Roy Hodgson has apologised after making a joke about a space monkey and winger Andros Townsend during half time of the 2-0 win over Poland.

Hodgson is believed to have used the joke about a space monkey to encourage right back Chris Smalling to pass the ball to Andros Townsend.

The 66-year-old said: “I would like to apologise if any offence has been caused by what I said at half time. There was absolutely no intention on my part to say anything inappropriate. I made this clear straight away to Andros in the dressing room."

England manager Roy Hodgson Credit: PA Wire

While The Sun newspaper accused Hodgson of making a "race gaffe" which "upset" players, Wayne Rooney defended the England manager against the "ridiculous" story.

The striker tweeted: "Seen the story on roy this morning. He done nothing wrong. This is ridiculous."

The row threatens to overshadow England's qualification for the World Cup which was confirmed after Tuesday's 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley.