Roy Hodgson: Wilfried Zaha has improved every season since England debut

Crystal Palace v West Ham United, Premier League, Selhurst Park, 28 October 2017. Image by Keith Gillard
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson believes Wilfried Zaha has improved with each season since he made his only England appearance in 2012 under the Croydon-raised boss, writes Conor O’Sullivan.
The 24-year-old Ivory Coast winger scored a 97th minute equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw for Palace at home to West Ham.
Hodgson said: “Wilfried Zaha is still not playing as an out-and-out centre forward, we don’t have anyone for that position.
“Wilf has always been prepared to cut in from wide positions and run the channels like Andros Townsend. We’re trying to get him to operate in the attacking positions where he is most comfortable. I was very pleased with the number of shots we got in – because we haven’t done that enough this season.
“Wilf got his reward in the end and he had shown his intention throughout the second half when he was peppering their goal and giving their defence a lot of problems. I’m not surprised by how well Wilf has played.
“I had seen him play a lot for Palace when I was England manager, apart from when he was involved in the squad, and I’ve seen him improve season on season.”
Palace face a potential injury crisis heading into another derby away to Tottenham on Sunday with Patrick van Aanholt coming off against West Ham due to a hamstring injury.

Crystal Palace v West Ham United, Premier League, Selhurst Park, 28 October 2017.
Image by Keith Gillard

“We lost Patrick van Aanholt to injury on top of three other first team players in McArthur, Sakho and Benteke which makes our squad look a lot thinner,” said Hodgson. “West Ham had a very strong bench and I doubt Slaven Bilic would have swapped with my substitutes.

“I’m not surprised the team was still going strong deep into stoppage time against West Ham because they’ve worked very hard in the last six weeks since I arrived and our fitness levels are starting to pay off.  It wasn’t a great risk changing the side for the League Cup. We only have one goal this season and that’s to avoid relegation.

Crystal Palace v West Ham United, Premier League, Selhurst Park, 28 October 2017.
Image by Keith Gillard

“To win the league cup in our current situation would be dreaming of an El Dorado. We could have maybe gone further in the competition by playing a different side but that would have meant extra midweek games and we must be totally realistic because we are scrapping for our lives in the next 28 games. Saturday was another milestone by picking up another point at home but I must now use the extra time to prepare the side for our upcoming games.
“Joe Hart is a top class goalkeeper and they needed him to be at his best against us. I would have preferred for him to play less well in the second half but it was no surprise to me. It was a pity for us he didn’t have a bad game.”