BY SAM SMITH
Roy Hodgson has warned that Wilfried Zaha’s place in the team is not guaranteed and that there will be no special treatment for the forward.
Zaha has started the season well, scoring three times in the opening four matches, but produced a poor performance in Crystal Palace’s 4-0 defeat against Chelsea on Saturday.
Hodgson has made it clear that there are players ready to replace the Ivorian in the team – unlike in previous seasons when the Eagles have lacked other forward options.
Zaha has often been the subject of transfer speculation but there have been no strong links this summer. Hodgson was asked how he would manage Zaha and his future following the defeat at Stamford Bridge.
“If he’s going to play in the team, his teammates expect certain things from him. if he’s not prepared to give those things, myself and the team are going to be very unhappy,” Hodgson said.
“He’s no different to any other player. His performances will have to reach the level of any other player, otherwise he will risk losing his place in the team. We have competition – Michy Batshuayi wasn’t playing today, neither was Christian Benteke, neither was Connor Wickham. It’s not as if there is nobody who can play up front in his position.
“What I’m expecting from him is that he produces the performances we require from him. Every player has a day when they’re not quite at their best, and that was possibly the case with Wilf today (Saturday).”
Zaha has made it clear to the club in previous years that he is keen to play for a team competing in European competition.
However, Hodgson has made it clear that Palace have enough to offer Zaha what he wants.
He continued: “Wilf is much respected and liked. He’s very appreciated at this football club. As a result, I think we have got more than enough to offer Wilf Zaha to keep him happy and doing what he enjoys – playing football and playing football well. But I do not believe we should give him any sympathy for wanting to play that football elsewhere.
“His demeanour in training has been fine. I’ve got no problems with the way he has conducted himself. Unfortunately, [against Chelsea] it wasn’t a good performance. It wasn’t just he who didn’t play well. There were quite a lot of our team who had games which were below-par. I’m sure they are feeling very, very unhappy about it.
“Playing for a team that is playing in Europe can be seen as playing at a higher level, and I don’t think we can offer him that at the moment. Of course, we would like to work towards it but at this moment in time we cannot offer him that.
“But, of course, for a team to buy him who are playing in those competitions, they are going to have to make themselves known.”
The transfer window allowing Premier League clubs to complete business between themselves or others in Europe closes at 11pm tonight. A separate window for Premier League clubs to complete business with EFL clubs runs until October 16.
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