Crystal Palace boss: Wilf Zaha and Mamadou Sakho are huge misses for us

BY MAX HALL

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is hopeful star man Wilfried Zaha will be back and raring to go after the two-week international break after he was once again sorely missed in a blustery FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Watford.

“You never know with hamstring injuries and strains in the hamstring, you have to be very, very careful, especially with players as explosive as Wilf is,” said Hodgson, when asked about the prognosis for his injured attacker.

“He felt it after the Brighton game and didn’t train during the week. We took him out on Thursday just to test it slightly under controlled conditions but it was pretty obvious that it would have been an enormous risk to play him in the game today and risk a much more serious injury. And with the two weeks now coming up, we can only hope that he’ll recover in time for our next game.

“We were unlucky to lose a player of Zaha’s quality before the game.

“We don’t really want to go into an important quarter-final without players of his ability and his importance to the team. So that was a bit unfortunate as, of course, has been the Mamadou Sakho injury.”

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson prior to kick-off

Palace missed their talisman in a game which saw them perform better in the second half but fail to exploit the conditions as well as their hosts.

“He’s an outstanding player and I don’t think when you take players of that quality out of a team… you’re not going to be able to say you didn’t miss them.

“During the season, when I think we’ve been playing reasonably well – and even playing much better for periods – it’s been with Wilf and with Mamadou Sakho. They are difficult players to replace, quality is very hard to replace. The quality of a Sakho and the quality of a Zaha, whenever you go into a game without them you’re going to miss it.”

“During the season, when I think we’ve been playing reasonably well – and even playing much better for periods – it’s been with Wilf and with Mamadou Sakho. They are difficult players to replace, quality is very hard to replace. The quality of a Sakho and the quality of a Zaha, whenever you go into a game without them you’re going to miss it.”

Crystal Palace’s Michy Batshuayi celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game during the FA Cup quarter final match at Vicarage Road, Watford. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. 

Hodgson also voiced his frustration at the tactics of the hosts, who broke up play by repeatedly kicking into touch after substitute Andre Gray’s 79th-minute equaliser.

“I thought there was a chance we could go on to win it,” said Hodgson of Palace’s play after Michy Batshuayi had levelled following Étienne Capoue’s first-half opener. “But we didn’t because they scored a very good second goal then there wasn’t time enough to get back in the game because the ball seemed to be out of play all of that last 15 minutes, for me. I can’t remember it hardly ever being in play, all I remember is throw-ins.

“With the game management you expect these days, you know the ball’s not going to be in play much longer for you to get back into the game.”

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