Turin: England substitute Andros Townsend declared that he had silenced his critics after his memorable goal earned Roy Hodgson's side a 1-1 draw in their friendly with Italy in Turin. The Tottenham Hotspur winger beat Gianluigi Buffon from 20 yards with a fine, right-footed strike in the 79th minute of Tuesday's game at Juventus Stadium, having replaced Fabian Delph nine minutes earlier.
England's midfielder Andros Townsend (R ) celebrates after scoring a goal during the friendly football match Italy vs England on Tuesday at the "Juventus Stadium" in Turin. Pic/AFP
Afterwards he took to Twitter to rebuke former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson for claiming he did not deserve his place in the squad, writing: "Not bad for a player that should be 'nowhere near the squad' ay @PaulMerse?" Townsend, 23, said that Merson's criticism had given him extra motivation to perform well.
"As soon as the squad was announced two weeks ago, it has been going over in my head," he told reporters. "He said it when the squad was announced -- that I should be nowhere near the squad. As soon as the goal went in, I was just desperate to get that tweet out! "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."
Although he is now a first-team regular at White Hart Lane, Townsend had started just two Premier League games for Tottenham this season before the turn of the year. But England manager Hodgson has kept faith with him throughout, having seen him score a superb goal -- also with his weaker right foot -- against Montenegro on his international debut in October 2013. "I have still got things to prove to people," added Townsend, who cancelled out a 29th-minute header by Italy striker Graziano Pelle.
"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." Hodgson claimed to be unmoved by newspaper criticism of Townsend, saying: "Lucky I don't read them, isn't it?"
Expanding on Townsend's qualities, Hodgson added: "It's because of the qualities that he brings. He's got that ability to get turned around very quickly and run at enormous pace, and that's something defenders don't like. "In a squad of 20-odd players, there should be space for guys like him because he's a game-changer."
Hodgson also praised Townsend's Spurs team-mate Harry Kane, who made his full debut but was unable to pull off a repeat of his debut goal from last Friday's 4-0 win over Lithuania in Euro 2016 qualifying. "I think he did really well," Hodgson said. "He's playing against three very experienced, strong, tough defenders. I'm more than satisfied with his performance. "It's been a good 10 days for him. He's made his debut, scored a goal, made his full debut."