Andros Townsend goal: Winger 'eagerly awaiting' response from Paul Merson after tweet following wonder-strike against Italy

The tweet had been 'in his head' since Merson's criticism

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The Independent Online

Andros Townsend revealed that the tweet he sent Paul Merson in the aftermath of his goal against Italy on Tuesday night has been “in my head” ever since the former Arsenal man attacked his England credentials when the squad was announced.

In the aftermath of the draw in Turin, Townsend joked that he could barely get down the tunnel quick enough to turn on his phone and tweet Merson after full-time in the 1-1 draw in which he scored a second half equaliser for Roy Hodgson’s team.

When Hodgson announced his squad on 19 March, Merson said that Ashley Young should have been included instead of Townsend and also criticised the inclusion of Kyle Walker. Merson said at the time: “If Townsend can get in then it opens it up for anybody. We are not picking players who are playing well for their clubs.”

Townsend tweeted just minutes after the game: “Not bad for a player that should be 'nowhere near the squad' ay @PaulMerse?”

Later the Spurs winger said: “As soon as the squad was announced two weeks ago, that tweet has been going over in my head. As soon as the goal went in, I was just desperate to get that tweet out … he said it when the squad was announced - that I should be nowhere near it.” Townsend said that he was “eagerly awaiting” Merson’s response.

 

Townsend added: “It didn’t really annoy me, it had kind of just given me the extra incentive to silence a few critics and hopefully I have done that as I always have done.

“Of course I have still got things to prove to people. I think you can never stop proving things to people but I think every time I have put on an England shirt I have done myself justice, I have done Roy Hodgson justice and the nation justice. I was a bit disappointed with his [Merson’s] comments but again I have come on the pitch and silenced them.”

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Andros Townsend scores the equaliser against Italy

Townsend has three goals in seven caps for England and scored a crucial World Cup qualifier goal against Montenegro in October 2013. Having scored the goal at the end of the match he went straight to Gianluigi Buffon, the 147-cap Italy goalkeeper to exchange shirts.

Townsend said: “He is a top goalkeeper - one of the best to ever play the game - so to score past him I thought was no mean feat. As soon as the whistle went, I thought I’d go and get his shirt because it is a real night to savour for me. He said something to me in Italian, something along the lines of ‘Well done’!”

Having played his way back into Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs team, Townsend said that he was in the best form he had produced all season. “Obviously, I have had a few injury problems at the start of the season but I think now I am over the worst of that. I am slowly building my confidence back to where it was and hopefully from now until the end of the season, I can get more games in the Spurs team and for England in the summer and get back to the football I was producing last season.”

Townsend also praised the development of fellow Spurs academy graduate, Harry Kane. “I’ve known Harry for the last four, five or six years, I’ve grown up in the youth team with him and he is a fantastic talent and a player who, if you give him a chance, he is always going to put it away. I think a few years ago, the main criticism was that he was lacking half a yard of pace and he has seemed to sort that out. He has bulked up and is now an animal and hopefully Spurs and England can benefit from that.

“I have always said to people that he is the best finisher I have ever played with. People used to laugh at me but now I think I should get a job as a scout!

“Even in training, left or right foot he is always working the goalkeeper. He can find himself in almost any position and he will hit the bottom or top corner. That part of the game he has always had but the other side of the game to be fair to him, he has really worked on and I think Spurs and England are seeing the benefits of that.”

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