Spearheading Newcastle United’s charge to Premier League survival is January recruit Andros Townsend.
The former Tottenham Hotspur ace struck a sensational free kick to settle the Magpies’ must-win clash with Crystal Palace, the 1-0 win enabling them to climb out of the relegation zone at the expense of bitter foes Sunderland.
It also took Townsend’s tally to four goals from 11 appearances since his move to the north east, making this his most prolific Premier League season to date.
Since the 2012/13 campaign, when he started making regular top-flight appearances, the 24-year-old had never found the net more than twice and, having raised his game at the right time, he must come into the England squad equation ahead of Euro 2016.
Despite never delivering to the extent he currently is across his entire club career, Townsend has won ten England caps.
All of them have been earned under the Hodgson regime and, with three goals in Three Lions white (including a great strike on debut in a World Cup qualifier with Montenegro), he has certainly repaid the Croydon Commandant’s faith.
Clearly, Hodgson has got plenty of time for the winger, proven through his continued selection for squads as recently as this season, despite the fact he could get nowhere near the Spurs first team.
Townsend was on the bench for the Euros qualifier with Estonia and actually won a cap against Lithuania in the following fixture. Not bad for a player who had made just three league appearances for his club at the time, all as a substitute.
Based on this, he must stand a chance of selection now he’s playing the best football of his career.
In terms of comparable personnel, it can be argued England have no wide men in the ranks who attack with the same speed and directness. The likes of Jamie Vardy, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott are strikers by trade, whereas Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have issues with form and fitness concerns.
Indeed, the Three Lions XI that began the 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands was bereft of pace on the flanks entirely, with Vardy starting up front, while it was Welbeck and Adam Lallana (two players who’d prefer central roles) occupying the flanks in the 3-2 win in Germany.
For Townsend, returning to the squad as a starter is hard to imagine, but he would provide a solid alternative option to those currently in the picture and Hodgson’s admiration for the Newcastle winger renders him an excellent bet to make the squad for a Euro 2016 tournament England are 8/1 to win.