September 23 2014 Latest news:
By Ben Pearce, Tottenham correspondent
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Tim Sherwood is looking forward to having Andros Townsend back in action, and he believes the winger is as good as any of his rivals in the England squad.
Townsend was in the starting line-up for Sherwood’s first game in charge of Spurs on December 18, but he limped out of that Capital One Cup defeat to West Ham with a hamstring injury and has missed the last six games.
The 22-year-old wide man was due to take the final step in his recovery with a run-out for Tottenham’s Under-21s side last night, but the fixture in the Under-21 Premier League was called off due to a waterlogged pitch at Bishop Stortford’s ProKit UK Stadium.
Sherwood may still throw Townsend back into action at Swansea on Sunday and, having helped to develop the young star’s talent in the youth section, he is relishing the prospect of unleashing his protege again.
“Andros backs himself to be better than anyone else in the world, that’s the sort of character he is,” said the head coach. “He needs to get himself fit and firing again and I’m sure you’ll see the best of him.
“I’ve known him since he was a kid and he’s a good lad. He’s a top trainer and he wants to be playing in every minute of every game - but he will get his opportunities and I’m sure he will be productive between now and the end of the season for us.
“He wants to play wide and attack people. Wherever you put him on the pitch he will try and take people on.
“He can still learn from others, and Aaron [Lennon] for instance, at how to be more responsible when you’re tracking back. But also, other players can learn from Andros at how direct you can be at times, as there’s no point playing safe.
“The kid doesn’t know how to play safe. He wants to put people on their backside and he does it a lot of times.”
Sherwood added: “He needs to slow himself down on his shooting, and he knows that, but he’s probably one of the most two-footed players in that squad.
“He cuts in from the left and shoots with the right, and he does the same on the other side. He’s probably more accurate on his right side than he is on the left.
“He can learn more, but who are we judging him against? We’re not judging him against Bale or Ronaldo at the moment but you can certainly judge him against anything in the England squad.”
Townsend has made a strong start to his international career, scoring and winning the man of the match award on his debut against Montenegro at Wembley in November, before going on to wear the Three Lions shirt against Poland, Chile and Germany.
While he has recently been out of the picture due to his injury, the winger’s prospects of being selected in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the summer’s World Cup have probably improved because Arsenal flier Theo Walcott has been ruled out for six months with cruciate knee ligament damage.
However, Sherwood believes Townsend may well have got the nod over the Gunners man anyway, and he is expecting a close battle between the two in future.
“Give me a wide player in the England squad and I’ll give pros and cons for both of them – I’m not going to be biased towards my own players,” said the Spurs boss.
“Obviously I like Andros and I know what his qualities are. He gets past people, he makes goals and he can score goals.
“Theo doesn’t mind running without the ball. He ducks in and out and bends his runs off that touchline into a centre forward position.
“Andros likes to have the ball at his feet and get past people. They are similar in that they are both young, British and are very direct but one is very direct with the ball and one without it.
“I think Theo played at a young age. I’ve mentioned Southampton before and they bring a lot of players through. It’s not because their recruitment is better. Well, I’ve got to show respect to their recruitment – I’m not sure if it’s good, bad or indifferent.
“One thing they have got over a lot of big clubs is opportunity. They put players on the stage and allow them to perform. Some of these boys might not be ready for the palladium that is Tottenham, but they get a chance to build their way up.
“It takes someone longer to play at Tottenham or Arsenal than it does anywhere else. If Andros was at Southampton, with respect to them, he would have a played a long time ago.”
Given that Sherwood was involved in Spurs’ youth development before being promoted to head coach last month, he has hinted that the lack of opportunities for young players under previous regimes has been a source of irritation for him.
“With my job in the development phase, I was banging on the door all the time for a lot of the boys,” he said. “I now know that the manager has his head on the block and it’s up to him to make that decision.
“If the club are buying players and have got more comfort with the international players who are coming in, they’ve got to go that way. They can only go with what they trust.
“Is the problem foreign coaches? I don’t think anyone gave Andros more opportunity that Andre [Villas-Boas], and he was a foreign coach.
“He really did take his opportunity under Andre. It’s about the football club where they’re at - and it’s a bigger stage than Southampton.”
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