Andros Townsend reacts to Rafa Benitez’s decision to stay at Newcastle – and boos from Sunderland fans

Newcastle winger Andros Townsend bursts down the flank in his late substitute appearance for England against Australia. Picture by Frank Reid
Newcastle winger Andros Townsend bursts down the flank in his late substitute appearance for England against Australia. Picture by Frank Reid

Andros Townsend welcomed Rafa Benitez’s decision to stay at Newcastle United – but stopped short of committing himself to the relegated club.

Townsend made his England comeback in last night’s 2-1 win over Australia at the Stadium of Light.

The winger, making his first appearance for his country since October, was booed on to the field by some Sunderland fans in the 76th minute.

And the 24-year-old, hoping to make Roy Hodgson’s final 23-man squad for Euro 2016, was lively in the dying minutes as England pushed for a third goal.

Told that he was the first Newcastle player to represent England in six years, Townsend said: “I didn’t know, but obviously I’m grateful because I owe a lot to Newcastle for getting me playing Premier League football again and getting me back in the England squad.

“So I owe it to them, and hopefully I did Newcastle proud when I came on.”

After the match, Townsend reacted on Twitter to the boos from Sunderland fans.

He tweeted: “Feels good to be back playing in an England shirt again! Nice little reception that was too haha.”

Asked how hopeful he was of making Hodgson’s squad, he added: “I’m not too sure.

“You’ll have to ask the manager, but listen, I got 10 to 15 minutes, I’ve done what I can, and if it’s not enough, then so be it.

“But if it is, then I’ll be delighted.

“Obviously, the manager has named a 26-man squad, and everyone’s been fighting to make the cut. Everyone’s the same and wants to be there, and luckily I’ve got to come on and stake my claim and see what happens.”

Benitez signed a revised three-year contract with Newcastle this week.

“It was fantastic news,” said Townsend. “Obviously, it’s no secret how well the manager did towards the end of last season, how well he got us playing and also how he got me playing well as well and getting me back to the form I’ve shown.

“I’m delighted he’s signed on for the next three years.”

Townsend, outstanding in the latter weeks of the season despite Newcastle’s failure to avoid the drop, has a release clause in the contract he signed in January following his £12million move from Tottenham.

And Magpie supporters fear that he will leave this summer.

But Townsend was ushered away by a Football Association minder before he could take a question on his future in the post-game mixed zone