Tottenham winger Andros Townsend has further defended England manager Roy Hodgson over his ‘space monkey’ joke by claiming his comments at half-time during their victory over Poland were a “compliment”.
Hodgson was reported to have said something in relation to an astronaut feeding a monkey in a comparison to Chris Smalling getting the ball to Townsend, with the leak from the England changing room said to have come from a member of the playing squad.
Townsend initially spoke via his Twitter account to confirm that he was not offended by the comments, which he knew were not racially related.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference ahead of Spurs’ Premier League fixture against Aston Villa on Sunday, Townsend admitted that Hodgson’s comment was a compliment and a sign of his appreciation for how well the 22-year-old was playing.
"The manager just told the players to give the ball to me so that's a compliment," said Townsend, who was been praised as rejuvenating the Three Lions over their past two games.
"Everyone should be focusing on us qualifying for Brazil - not on negative silly news."
Townsend’s defence comes after Hodgson admitted both he and the squad were “angry” with the revelations, and he admitted his disappointment that what should be a time of joy and celebration had been soured by these claims.
"Joy is short-lived in this job," Hodgson said when speaking to the Daily Mail on Friday.
"The players are as angry about this as I am. We have just had a successful period and, although I wouldn't suggest we intend to rest on our laurels, I think we have earned the right to enjoy the fruits of our labours. Instead we get this."
Hodgson was also defended by the Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, who gave both his and the governing body’s full backing to the under-fire manager.
"Roy Hodgson is a man of the highest integrity, an honourable man who is doing a great job with the England team," said Dyke.
"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. He has also explained the context in which he made his remarks."
However, since Hodgson spoke, the Society for Black Lawyers has written a letter to the FA calling for an independent investigation on the matter, labelling their decision to class the matter as closed “unacceptable”.
Furthermore, they have demanded that Hodgson attends a race appreciation training course, with the head of the group Peter Herbert writing the four-page complaint letter himself to Dyke.
"To announce that the matter is 'closed' without any action being taken against the England manager is unacceptable and wholly inconsistent with your policies on equality and diversity,” the letter read.
"For Mr Hodgson or anyone else to make an apology if they fail to understand why the words used were offensive or potentially so is not the response of an institution with the resources and profile of the FA.
"The 'innocent remark' made out of ignorance is sadly a common feature of football. We are using the appropriate complaints procedure to urge the FA to provide mandatory 'race appreciation' training and 'cultural capital and cultural intelligence' training to Roy Hodgson and all football managers in the UK."
The FA declined to comment on the letter.