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Player Zone: Andros Townsend is entering his peak after finally settling down

Nine loans moves, 18 different managers – Andros Townsend hasn’t had the easiest career in terms of being able to settle down.

Having said that, it was almost all over before it even began, as the winger was released by Tottenham at the age of just 15, only to be called back into the fold after the departure of the coaches who let him go. It is that resilience, that spirit to continuously bounce back from setback after setback, that has led Townsend to becoming an effective Premier League player at the age of 27.

Following that first setback, when he was released from the academy, Townsend eventually managed to break into the first-team at Spurs and made his debut in the FA Cup against Charlton, under boss Harry Redknapp.

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Sadly, it was not to be the start of a regular run in the senior set-up. Between 2009 and 2013, the England international made an astonishing nine loan moves, but it is the timeframe that he made them in that truly speaks volumes.

In an interview with the BBC, Townsend revealed that he would be out on loan, only to be called back to sit on the sidelines, which must have made it incredibly hard to focus on his football, and been extremely demoralising.

Years on, and still not a nailed down starter at Spurs, an argument with fitness coach Nathan Gardiner led to him being disciplined by Mauricio Pochettino, and spelt the beginning of the end for the academy graduate at a club where he used to go and watch from the stands with his dad.

Newcastle came calling, and Townsend starred with four goals and two assists in 12 league starts, but he couldn’t save Rafa Benitez’s Magpies from the drop – this untimely relegation prompted yet another move to Crystal Palace, at a time when he looked to have hit his stride.

His early days at Palace were awful. The 27-year-old looked lazy, lethargic and just downright disinterested under Alan Pardew, and a woeful first six months in south London almost saw him move on once again, but for one game away to Bournemouth that his father, Troy Townsend, said changed everything.

Townsend set up the decisive goal for Christian Benteke with just minutes remaining, and truly kicked on under the management duo of Sam Allardyce and Sammy Lee, the latter of whom Townsend said had a huge impact on him in particular.

Townsend senior also suggested that the management of the man who Allardyce had replaced, Pardew, was particularly detrimental to his form, saying that he had ‘squashed any confidence he had’.

Almost two years on, the former QPR winger has truly found a home where he can focus on his football, under a manager in Roy Hodgson who trusts him massively – the 71-year-old gave Townsend his international debut and always selected him in his England squads, even when the winger was out of form.

Interestingly, the Leytonstone-born footballer has emerged as one of Palace’s key men, even scoring more goals than the club’s talisman Wilfried Zaha this season. Townsend has seven goals and three assists in all competitions, including a goal of the season contender away to Manchester City.

He is arguably in the form of his life, and has already recorded his best goal tally for a single season with just under half of the current campaign still yet to play – the journeyman tag has well and truly been shaken off.

Article title: Player Zone: Andros Townsend is entering his peak after finally settling down

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