Roy Hodgson wants Crystal Palace to show they can win without Wilfried Zaha

Jim van Wijk, PA
·3-min read

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has challenged his squad to show they can win games without Wilfried Zaha.

The Ivory Coast forward will again be missing from the team to face Burnley on Saturday after he suffered a hamstring strain against Newcastle on February 2.

Palace drew a blank in the 2-0 defeat at Leeds on Monday night, when Jordan Ayew and on-loan Frenchman Jean-Philippe Mateta, making his debut, led the frontline.

Analysis by the PA news agency shows the Eagles are almost a point-per-game worse off without Zaha in their line-up, winning just two from 19 over the last four seasons.

Hodgson accepts the figures show just what an influence Zaha is, but feels it is down to those who do play to help deliver the required result.

“Statistically you can prove that we win fewer games when he is not playing,” the Palace boss said.

“As a result he deserves all the plaudits he has quite rightly received during his time at the club for helping us get the results we get.

“If you are a player who is not playing every week and are watching Wilf get all the plaudits, then when he doesn’t play and you do play and the result has not gone the way it should go, then you have to read: ‘People are missing Wilf Zaha and they can’t win without him.’

“It is up to those players who are on the receiving end of those comments or criticisms to get out there and prove that we are good enough ourselves and we are not totally dependent upon him.

“The only way that is going to happen is if we start winning games when he is not there, and the players who take his place start showing what they can do and replacing him in the right manner which enables us to win the game.”

Former England boss Hodgson added: “We have a squad of 25 players, only 11 can play.

“If you are one of the 14 that are not playing, your mindset should be fairly simple: ‘I want to play, to show what I can do, to prove that I am a very good Premier League player as well.’

“The mindset for me is not a difficult one to achieve. It is the mindset which all the players through all the years have wanted and that is: ‘Give me my chance and I will show you what I can do.'”

Hodgson feels it is still too early to speculate on just how long Zaha could be sidelined for.

“It is only one week, maybe slightly more, into his muscle injury, so we are anticipating it will take more time than that for him to recover,” Hodgson said.

Palace had won successive league games before losing at Elland Road and are focused on climbing into the top half.

Burnley, meanwhile, find themselves in 17th, scrapping to stay clear of being sucked into a survival battle.

Hodgson, though, expects a stern test.

“Burnley are a difficult team to play against,” said Hodgson, who will welcome assistant manager Ray Lewington back onto the touchline following his recovery from Covid-19.

“They are very well organised, have their game plan and they always execute it so well.

“We understand that we have to give our best and that if we make mistakes or don’t do the things we plan to do, then we could find ourselves having a very difficult afternoon.”