Roy Hodgson pleased Dele Alli has forced his way back into Tottenham’s plans

George Sessions, PA
·2-min read

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson is pleased Dele Alli has forced his way back into the plans of Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho.

The 24-year-old had looked set to exit Spurs in January after he started only one Premier League fixture during the first half of the season.

No move materialised and the playmaker is back in favour after he struck a wonder goal in the Europa League against Wolfsberger last month before playing a key role in Thursday’s 1-0 win at Fulham.

Hodgson will face Alli on Sunday when Palace visit Tottenham, and he has been a long-term fan of the former MK Dons ace, who he handed an England debut to as a teenager in 2015.

“I am very pleased for him because he is a player I like and admire,” the 73-year-old said.

“He is an excellent player and it’s always sad when a player with so much potential hits hard times and maybe is not able to get his place in the team for whatever reason that is.

“It’s very good on a personal basis for my relationship if you like with Dele Alli, who I enjoyed working with and who I thought was a very good player, to see him playing again.

“But I wouldn’t have minded if he waited another couple of weeks!”

Alli’s start at Craven Cottage was just his second in the Premier League this season, but he was replaced in the 67th minute and could be back on the bench on Sunday, with Tottenham in Europa League action again next week.

The Palace boss also has decisions to make, with top goalscorer Wilfried Zaha available again following a hamstring injury, while Jeffrey Schlupp returned from a similar problem with a late cameo in the midweek draw at home to Manchester United.

It will ease some pressure on 22-year-old Ebere Eze, who has three goals and the same number of assists since he joined in the summer from QPR, but none in the Eagles’ last five matches.

“He has had a very quick rise to where he is today,” Hodgson said.

“I think there are very few of his age playing their first season in the Premier League that you wouldn’t look at and say they are very good and they do very good things, but there are other aspects of their game where he could improve.

“He works on them and is very keen to learn. I am delighted with his progress and we haven’t seen the best of him yet, but then again we never expected to.

“This is a player who has signed a very long-term contract with the club and will be here doing his work for many, many years to come. You will see a better Eberechi Eze with every month that goes by.”