Wayne Rooney set aside the obvious delight at his own resurgence to acclaim the talents of the remarkable Andros Townsend, the kid from nowhere driving England towards the World Cup.
After lighting up Wembley with his pace and skill, the 22-year-old Tottenham winger crowned a vibrant England debut with a brilliant individual goal in the 4-1 victory over Montenegro. “It was a great performance,” Rooney said. “Andros did great, especially coming into a pressure game like that for the first time and scoring like he did. It was great for him, exciting for us and great for the future.”
Townsend made his Spurs debut only in February and has yet to notch a dozen games. His displays on the right for Spurs this season have all-but erased the memory of Gareth Bale and thrust him into Roy Hodgson’s thinking. Injuries to Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain persuaded Hodgson to gamble on the right flank, where he had deployed seven different players before throwing the England shirt to Townsend, much to Rooney’s satisfaction.
“The manager showed tonight that he could play a really attacking team with us four (Rooney, Townsend, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge) and the experience of Steve (Gerrard) and Frank (Lampard) behind us. We all excelled. I thought we played some good stuff, some good movement, and we scored four goals which I am pleased about. ”
Lampard, eyeing his third and final World Cup appearance in Brazil, echoed Rooney’s sentiments. “Andros was brilliant all night. From the start, he ran at people and I said to him in the dressing room ‘carry on doing what you are doing at Tottenham’ because it is a step up here in the first game but that was one of the best debuts you will see.
“He had the goal to top it off. In international football, you need pace and you need your players up top to create things out of nothing and run at people and maybe it is something we did not have so much of a couple of years ago. All of a sudden we have a few options there so this is exciting.”
Rooney opened the scoring minutes into the second half with his 37th goal for England, leaving him just 12 adrift of Sir Bobby Charlton’s record and is primed to repeat the feat in the final qualifying match against Poland on Tuesday, which England must win to guarantee passage to Brazil. “I’m delighted obviously to score goals for England and I think it was a vital goal for us with the time it came.
“It’s a massive game (Poland). When you look at the two teams, Poland are probably a better team at the moment than Montenegro, I think they are much more dangerous on the counter-attack and we will have to prepare well for that. If we perform like we did against Montenegro then we will be okay. But we are not at there yet. It would be great to try and get a goal to get us there and then obviously score goals in that (finals).
“I am just looking forward to the game on Tuesday. I said through the week that we are excited for these two games, there’s an excitement around the squad and I think that showed in the performance.”
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