“Difficult” – Crystal Palace boss Hodgson gives debut verdict on new striker Jean-Phillipe Mateta

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson felt Jean-Philippe Mateta endured a “difficult” debut in tonight’s 2-0 loss at Leeds United.

The January signing from Bundesliga outfit Mainz started for the Eagles, who badly missed the injured Wilfried Zaha, at Elland Road.

And Palace have now not scored in seven away Premier League games this season – the joint-most along with Burnley.
Mateta was replaced by Michy Batshuayi in the 65th minute.

Asked about his new French striker, Hodgson said: “It was a very difficult game for him, it was going to be anyway. The pitch didn’t help. I know it’s the same for both teams but we seemed to have even more trouble than they did keeping our footing.

“It’s his first game in the Premier League and he’s playing against a team who pressurise very aggressively and quickly. It’s good he’s got the 65 minutes behind him. We’ll keep working with him and hope he will come to terms more and more with what the Premier League is the longer he works with us.

“If Wilf had been fit there is a chance he might not have played today. It was really a choice of choosing alongside Jordan Ayew which of the three forwards I wanted to play and I thought it was the right time. He’s been with us a couple of weeks and been champing at the bit to try and get a start in the Premier League.

“I knew it would be a bit of a baptism of fire for him but it would be good to see what he could do. Whoever played up front today would have found it difficult, there’s no question of that, but it’s good he got those minutes. He was also tiring a lot, which was going to happen because the pitch was heavy and he’s not used to the intensity of Premier League football.”

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