BY SAM SMITH
Eberechi Eze’s set-piece masterclass in Crystal Palace’s 4-1 victory over Leeds United was a product of the midfielder’s extra work on the training ground, manager Roy Hodgson has revealed.
Scott Dann headed in Eze’s corner to open the scoring at Selhurst Park, before the 22-year-old beat goalkeeper Illan Meslier with a stunning free kick.
Hodgson explained that the summer signing often stays behind after training to practice his dead-ball delivery.
“He’s a good professional. He works very hard in the training sessions and takes them as seriously as he should. He practices a lot after the sessions, in particular his set plays,” Hodgson told TalkSport.
“Of course, he produced two goals from set plays – one the corner kick from which we opened the scoring, and then his own spectacular free kick. That’s a product of his work on the training ground, which I’m sure was taking place long before he joined us.
“He’s a very likeable character, he’s quick to smile, quick to laugh. He gives the impression that he enjoys his work as a professional footballer and that nothing’s too hard for him.
“As a result, of course, that is the reason we signed him because we knew all these things about him before he actually stepped through the door. What he’s done since stepping through the door is actually prove that the information we had about him was correct.”
It was Eze’s first goal involvements in a Palace shirt in just his third Premier League start.
The Greenwich-born youngster – who had a spell with South London rivals Millwall as a teenager – has had to be patient for chances since his move from Queens Park Rangers, often finding himself on the substitutes’ bench in his first few months at the club.
Hodgson has regularly opted for Jeffrey Schlupp on the left of midfield, but the Ghanaian was replaced in that position by Eze for the game against Leeds. The Palace boss explained his team selection to TalkSport host Jim White.
“He played against Chelsea (a 4-0 defeat) and did okay in that game. We lost it, of course, but through no fault of his own – it was our defensive errors that cost us badly that day. But he’s been ready for a while.
“It’s purely been the competition and the fact that we started the season quite well. Therefore, the two players in his position kept their place. He’s always been more than knocking on the door because he’s looked very comfortable from the very first moment that he joined us on the training fields.
“We’ve not had any doubts about his readiness, it was always just a question of when to make the changes in the team.”
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