BY ANDREW McSTEEN
After returning from a long-term injury, as a late substitute against Sheffield United at the beginning of this month, Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend was then an unused substitute in the last two Eagles’ games, against Everton and Newcastle United.
That game against Sheffield United was his first for Roy Hodgson’s men since the 0-0 draw against Watford on 7 December and just his 16th appearance of a frustrating season.
“It’s been a bit of a nightmare; I am not used to being injured,” said the 28-year-old to talkSPORT. “I picked up what I thought was a calf strain, played a couple of games with it, and it turned out it was a tendon issue which, unfortunately, takes at least two to three months [to recover].
“It’s been a tough few months and it was a tough one to take, but, fortunately, it was in and around the Christmas period so that was a silver lining – I enjoyed my Christmas and my New Year. The calf is fine now but, unfortunately, I picked up a little niggle elsewhere which is hampering me at the minute.
“Hopefully, I am over the worst of it now and within the next few weeks I can get back to full fitness and back on to the pitch.”
The former Newcastle United player is even hoping that he could feature in the derby clash away at Brighton on Saturday, as Roy Hodgson’s men look to capitalise on their victory at home against the Toon last week – their first of 2020 – to put an end to a dismal run of no win in eight.
“We’ve not been on the greatest run of form, but we got that win on Saturday and hopefully we’ve turned the corner now – we’ve got players coming back,” he said. “Unfortunately, I got injured at the same time as Jeffrey Schlupp, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins (and others) – we had a load of injuries all at once.
“The manager has said getting injured players back is like having new signings, so, in his mind, he’s going to have three or four new signings before the end of the month. It’s massive just to have bodies back – he can look to the bench and bring on experienced players who can help him win football matches.
“I’m still training, and in the squad but, at the minute, the manager has decided that I am nowhere near being fit enough to get on the pitch. Hopefully I can prove myself in training at the back end of this week and get some game time on Saturday.”
The frustration of not being able to capitalise on an impressive campaign last season where he made 45 appearances, scoring nine times, is clear for Townsend, who is now only looking forward to the next few months.
“I think last season was my best season in terms of goals, assists and performances,” said the Spurs Academy graduate. “I was looking at this season to kind of build on that, but injuries have hampered me.
“I’ve always been someone who likes to get the ball and take people on, get crosses in and get shots in – that’s always something I’ve always done. I think the manager appreciates that and, hopefully, I can get back to my best before the end of the season, and we can have a strong end to it – there’s still a long way to go.”
PICTURE BY KEITH GILLARD
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