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Inspiration is a word Roy Hodgson has earmarked as key to Crystal Palace overturning the worst start in Premier League history.

Inspiration in picking up key results against the big boys, which now looks essential if Palace are to survive the drop.

But also inspiration from individual players, who boast the capabilities of grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck and driving their team-mates forward.

Andros Townsend has not shied away from that responsibility in the past.

As Palace battled back so magnificently under Sam Allardyce last season to preserve their top-flight status, the former Tottenham man was at the forefront of their revival.

The onus will always be on the Eagles' star assets to perform but with Wilfried Zaha only back from injury in the last month and Christian Benteke making just his first start in Tuesday's goalless draw against rivals Brighton, Hodgson needs Townsend to step up once more.

In the final two months of last season, which saw Palace pick up six victories in their last 11 Premier League matches, the 26-year-old stood out as a star performer.

Chipping in with two goals and two assists, Townsend's relentlessness in bullying defenders and running them ragged was pivotal in releasing pressure on the defence.

There's no doubt that on his day the England international boasts all the qualities to trouble any full-back in the league but, so far at least, he has lacked consistency.

The visit of Chelsea to Selhurst Park in October was hardly the ideal way to restart after the international break and back-to-back thrashings at the hands of Manchester United and Manchester City.

But, the champions were so far off the pace compared to last season and the Eagles pulled off a shock win with Townsend and the fit-again Zaha to the fore as an unorthodox strike pairing.

Palace took some heart from that result and have lost just twice in the Premier League since to move within three points of safety.

Early service to Townsend out wide is key though.

Maximising his pace and industry exposes full-backs and presents Palace with the perfect platform from which to create and score goals. He can commit defenders and get in behind to supply the ammunition for Zaha and, now he's back, Benteke.

Though if there is one area the England international must improve it is his goal output. In 50 top-flight appearances for the Croydon outfit, Townsend has bagged just three goals. For context, during his 13-game stint with a Newcastle United side doomed for the Championship he managed four.

But while he lacks for goals, Townsend has made important contributions in other areas. With 1.6 shots per game he is at least trying and attempts the fourth-most, on average, of any Palace player.

Furthermore, he is second only to Yohan Cabaye (1.9) for key passes per game with 1.6. And he is third for dribbles per game (3.1) with only Zaha and hugely-impressive Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek ahead of him.

Hodgson will set his side up to be hard to beat but, as already proven, clubs who are bereft of confidence and languishing at the foot of the table are often architects of their own downfall.

Yet for all their flaws, Palace have some qualities that most of the sides at the wrong end of the table do not: pace, trickery and unpredictability. In abundance.

There are plenty of areas of this Eagles squad which are woefully lacking – not least up front where they have been without a senior striker thanks to long-term injuries to Benteke and Connor Wickham – but Swansea City and West Ham United, as the two other sides in the drop zone, would give anything to have players of Zaha and Townsend's quality in the final third.

It is West Bromwich Albion, now under the guidance of former Eagles boss Alan Pardew, up next. The man who took Palace to an FA Cup final will know all about Towsend's threat. But stopping him is another matter altogether.

Premier League