Andros Townsend takes to Twitter to mock Arsenal legend Paul Merson after scoring for England

The Spurs winger came off the bench to score the equaliser in Turin

Andros Townsend hit back at Paul Merson on Twitter after his equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin – a response to the former Arsenal player saying that the winger did not deserve to be in the England squad.

Townsend tweeted in the immediate aftermath of the game: “Not bad for a player that should be 'nowhere near the squad' ay @PaulMerse?” Merson had questioned Roy Hodgson’s decision to include the Tottenham Hotspur man in his original squad.

Merson had originally said that Ashley Young, and not Townsend, should have been in the squad following Manchester United’s victory over Spurs and the early substitution in the game for the Spurs man. Merson said at the time: “Townsend can get in then it opens it up for anybody. We are not picking players who are playing well for their clubs — he got taken off after 30 minutes the other week against United.

“The England manager is there watching the game and he still gets picked. Townsend and [Kyle] Walker were the worst two players on the pitch.

“How can you tell me that a manager goes and watches Man United against Tottenham, the winger gets taken off after 30 minutes, the winger from the other team absolutely rinses the full-back for England and Young doesn’t get in the squad?”

 

Hodgson described Townsend as a “game-changer” after his goal, and said he had been right to persist with the player. Hodgson said: “He's got that ability, Andros, to get turned around very quickly and run at enormous pace with skill at defenders, and that's something defenders don't like.

“We've always appreciated that quality he has. In a squad of 20-odd players, there should be a place for guys like him because he's a game changer.”

The England manager admitted that his team had struggled in the first half with a new formation. He had played Phil Jones in holding midfield and Harry Kane and Theo Walcott up front with Wayne Rooney in behind. Later Walcott and Rooney switched positions before the former was substituted.

He said: “The first half was nothing like the performances I'm looking for. We fell well below the standards we've been setting, and the whole game was very much a friendly atmosphere. There wasn't a lot of passion from the crowd and it just seemed to drift, and drift very badly as far as we were concerned. But the second half was much closer to what we're trying to do. There were moments where we played well.”

The England team have had to delay their flight back to Luton and Manchester until Wednesday after a technical fault with their plane prevented them from travelling back overnight – a development likely to go down badly with their Premier League clubs.

The Football Association announced after the game that the players were staying in Turin until midday Wednesday, an extra night than planned. Their usual schedule is to fly first to Luton airport and then on to Manchester to drop off northern-based players.

The clubs are always eager to have their players back as soon as possible to assess them before the weekend. The FA said that the delay was unavoidable and that it would be explaining the reasons to the clubs when the party returned.

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