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Professional Wilfried Zaha remains committed to Crystal Palace – Roy Hodgson
The 26-year-old handed in a transfer request but Hodgson believes he can be important for Palace in the upcoming campaign.
Roy Hodgson insisted Wilfried Zaha is committed to Crystal Palace ahead of their opening Premier League game of the season against Everton on Saturday.
The 26-year-old was linked with a move to the Toffees and reportedly submitted a transfer request ahead of the deadline, but he remains a Palace player.
Zaha was a crucial member of the Palace side last season, with 10 goals and five assists in 34 league matches, and Hodgson believes he will remain a key player this campaign.
“The fact is he is a professional. He realises that,” said the former England manager.
“He is committed to the club and helping us do what we need to do to stay in the league.
“His training performance today was just as good as it was on Monday and Tuesday.”
Hodgson added: “We wanted him here with us. We were waiting to see what the outcome would be.
“It’s been a very good outcome because Wilf is still with us, so we’re looking forward now to benefiting from the skills he brings to us.”
Palace finished 12th in the league last season and nine of their 14 victories came away from Selhurst Park, where they start the new campaign against a new-look Everton side.
The Toffees have made seven additions to their squad over the summer with deadline-day signing Alex Iwobi joining Djibril Sidibe, Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph, Jonas Lossl, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Moise Kean at Goodison Park.
Hodgson said: “They were a good team last season and they don’t look like they’re going to be any less good this year by the signings they have made. We are gearing up for a very tough opening fixture.”
Palace will be without James Tomkins (groin), Mamadou Sakho (knee) and Jeffrey Schlupp (ankle), but Hodgson is happy with his squad heading into the campaign.
“It is dangerous at the start of the season when everybody is excited to talk about targets because so much depends on injuries,” he said.
“The most important thing for us to do in this transfer window was to try and bat off interest from other clubs in Wilf Zaha because there is no doubt that with him, with Tomkins and Sakho returning and with the additions, we should theoretically be stronger than we were last year. If we can be stronger there is no reason for us to have a lower total as our goal.”
The club have been given an additional boost after club captain Luka Milivojevic signed a new four-year contract.
The 28-year-old played every minute of Palace’s Premier League season in the 2018-19 season and scored 12 goals, becoming the team’s top scorer for the second successive season.
Chairman Steve Parish told the club website: “Luka has been a fantastic player and leader for the club for two and a half years.
“His contribution really has been immense and I am delighted that he has agreed to pledge his long term future to Crystal Palace.”