England winger Andros Townsend insists he had to quit Newcastle for the sake of his career.
The 25-year-old has failed to cement his place in the national side after struggling to make a Premier League breakthrough before this year.
England’s World Cup qualifying trip to Slovenia on Tuesday marks the third anniversary of Townsend’s debut – where he scored in a 4-1 win over Montenegro – but he has only earned another 10 caps since. Before that, Townsend will be hoping to play a part in the home qualifier against Malta on Saturday.
He was left out of the final squad for Euro 2016 after an ankle injury ruled him out of the 2014 World Cup.
Townsend joined Crystal Palace from relegated Newcastle in the summer after only moving to the Magpies in January, and he believes it was the right choice if he is going to recapture top form.
He said: “It has been extremely frustrating. Looking back on it I got injured at the wrong time when I was flying high. Then for a year or two I could not get back to the form I wanted to. But now, what is in the past is in the past and I proved at Newcastle I am still good enough to play in the Premier League.
“It gave me great confidence again and I got back in the England squad. Unfortunately, it did not work out for me there but now I am playing well for Palace and scoring goals again. Obviously there is a bit of frustration that I could not kick on after my debut but I think I am in a good place again, I am happy with my form and I am playing well.
“Roy (Hodgson, former England boss) did say it didn’t matter if I was playing in the Premier League or Championship but when he left I knew if I was playing in the Championship it would be nigh-on impossible to get in the squad so it was a factor in my decision.
“Three years ago is a long time ago and I don’t want to compare myself to a previous time. Three years ago, I only scored one goal in the Premier League all season. Maybe I was taking people on more, but now I have matured a lot and am getting crosses early into the box. That is getting me more assists and hopefully I am getting more goals.
“I really enjoyed my time at Newcastle, I make no secret of that. It did cross my mind to stay but I need to be playing Premier League football if I want to make the most of my career.
“A year taking a step back in the Championship when at Spurs I wasn’t as playing as much as I’d have liked to, I decided I couldn’t really do that. I made the tough decision, I’m happy to be at Palace now, everything is going well, so hopefully it was the right decision.”
Townsend swapped Tottenham for Newcastle in January after eight years and nine loan spells away from White Hart Lane, having only made 22 league starts for Spurs.
He failed to make an impact under Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, making just three substitute appearances in the Premier League before January last season, and knew the writing was on the wall.
“It was an extremely difficult time in my career. I was being given the chances but for whatever reason I just wasn’t playing well. I was playing in the under-21s but I still was not playing well and I was not happy with my form,” said Townsend, who spent time on loan at Leyton Orient, Yeovil, Millwall and MK Dons early in his career.
“It was obvious I was not going to play at Spurs. I did not have a future there. I knew if I wanted to go to Newcastle in January I had to be fully fit. I spoke to the manager and said I needed to be playing games and asked if I could play with the under-21s. He was happy for that.”
Townsend replaced the injured Raheem Sterling after initially missing out on Gareth Southgate’s first squad and is eager to prove his worth to the interim manager.
“It’s nice to be back. I missed the last few trips. Now I’m back and hopefully I can make the most of it,” he said.
“I didn’t know Raheem was out. I got a call Monday afternoon to say I was replacing somebody. I have been happy with my form, I started a little bit slowly, didn’t make the first squad, expectedly, but I was happy with my form, and thankfully I have been given the chance through someone else’s misfortune and hopefully I can make the most of it.”