Mauricio Pochettino may have a blossoming reputation for bringing through young players at Tottenham, but may look back at Andros Townsend as one that got away.
Townsend played his third consecutive game for Spurs’ under-21’s in their game against Everton last week, the biggest indication yet that he is set for a White Hart Lane exit in January.
While several stars of the under-21’s - in particular Cameron Carter-Vickers and Shaq Coulthirst -can look forward to a bright future at the club, for Townsend it is almost certainly a confirmation of his place on the fringes.
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His Spurs career has admittedly never been plain sailing, having been sent on loan a total of nine times in the last six years. After a loan spell at QPR two seasons ago, he could now be set for another relegation battle with reported suiters Aston Villa and Newcastle.
And yet, it could have all been so different for Townsend at Tottenham. He made his way back into the side under Pochettino’s predecessor Tim Sherwood, another advocate of the club’s thriving Academy. His run in the side initially continued under the Argentinian, and he was even put on penalty duty, such was the manager’s faith in the 24-year-old.
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That faith was also shared by England boss Roy Hodgson, who at times has persevered with Townsend in the national side even when he was not playing week in, week out domestically.
A public spat with fitness coach Nathan Gardiner appears to have been the beginning of the end of his time at Tottenham. Pochettino may have attempted to play it down at the time, but the midfielder has scarcely been seen since.
It is undoubtedly a waste of a young talent, who may now struggle to find himself a Premier League club and could potentially drop down a division in search of regular first team football.
Competition in Spurs' midfield
Competition in Spurs’ midfield is immense, and Townsend has often found himself in the difficult position whereby he was always unlikely to be the first name on the team sheet. However, he is the type of player who has made the squad stronger over the past two years.
Townsend may not have been one of Spurs’ great players, but by allowing his misdemeanour to permanently colour his relationship with the club, they risk missing out on a gifted midfielder that could have helped greatly with their creative struggles.
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