Wilfried Zaha’s return gives Roy Hodgson a boost

Wilfried Zaha’s return to form is just the boost Crystal Palace needs after their first defeat under Roy Hodgson, the Eagles boss believes.

The Palace talisman was forced off with a groin strain during his side’s April 1 win over Leicester, dampening what was otherwise a jubilant afternoon as the former England manager started a second spell in bench at his boys’ club.

Hodgson confirmed Zaha will be ready for Saturday’s meeting with West Ham at Selhurst Park, where Palace are hoping to bounce back from Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Wolves.

Zaha has been absent from the Palace squad since sustaining a groin injury in Hodgson's first game back

Zaha has been absent from the Palace squad since sustaining a groin injury in Hodgson’s first game back

“It’s a huge boost, absolutely,” said Hodgson, whose side had gone on to a three-game winning streak and then drawn with Everton prior to that meeting.

“We are delighted to see him back on the training ground, back doing the training sessions and exercises that we have done because in the last couple of weeks we have basically seen him running around trying to get his fitness to a level that would have allowed him to take part in a Premier League match.

“Obviously you don’t want to lose your best players when you go to those matches, so I’m pretty sure he’ll give everyone a boost. I am sure he will strengthen our squad as he is now back with us, able to play.”

Hodgson has been less forthcoming about Zaha’s future, with the Ivory Coast international side reportedly being offered a potential record deal to extend his stay in south London after his current contract expires at the end of the season.

He said: “Obviously it’s none of my business, it’s the club’s business.

“If you ask me as a Crystal Palace fan I’d say it’s very important to try and keep him and I’ll be more than happy if he decides to stay, but he’s certainly outside my remit so I’m sure if you really wanted to know the situation between him and the club, so you should talk to him or with [chairman] Steve Parish o [sporting director] Dougie Freedman.”

Palace will also benefit from a fit Joachim Andersen, who was forced out in the Wolves encounter.

The 12th-ranked Eagles were in a very different situation when Hodgson accepted the reins from Patrick Vieira just under six weeks ago.

Their table position had changed little since before Christmas, but results elsewhere meant Palace had gradually slipped deeper into the relegation conversation.

Palace have 37 points and three more will ensure safety for another season. It’s something Hodgson is aware of, but he insists she will never appear in motivational speeches alongside him.

Hodgson will not use points as motivation

Hodgson will not use points as motivation

He added: “I think the reminder should be that there are five games to play, five times 95 minutes.

“Each of those minutes could be very, very important, each of those games could be very important for various reasons and there is no reason for us at any stage during those five games to be guilty of not giving what we gave in each one. of those five games so far, because there hasn’t been one of those five games that has disappointed me even slightly.

“I have in fact, very often, been more than happy with the way the team has played, so I don’t see why I should be expected to have to give messages to players and worry them with point numbers.

“I think the message will be very simple: five games to go, we have played five good ones to date, let’s play five more good ones and finish the season in a way that we can all be proud of, and look at what number of points that gives us.

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