Sunday 8 December 2019

Hodgson delighted to see Schlupp pushing Zaha and Townsend

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson knows he can rely on Jeffrey Schlupp if Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend are not on top form.

Crystal Palace’s Jeffrey Schlupp made a big impact off the bench in the 2-0 win at Burnley (Martin Rickett/PA)
Crystal Palace’s Jeffrey Schlupp made a big impact off the bench in the 2-0 win at Burnley (Martin Rickett/PA)

By George Sessions, PA

Roy Hodgson is delighted Crystal Palace are not 100 per cent dependent on Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend and is happy to have a player like Jeffrey Schlupp pushing the pair for a starting berth.

Ivory Coast international Zaha opened the scoring in the 2-0 win at Burnley on Saturday and talk is again intensifying about his future with the winter transfer window set to open in January.

Eagles boss Hodgson has consistently stated the academy graduate will always attract suitors, but will only leave for the right price as demonstrated by the club’s stance last summer.

And yet despite Zaha’s obvious talent, in recent matches Townsend and Schlupp have showed their quality too with the latter also netting in the victory at Turf Moor on Saturday.

It means ahead of hosting Bournemouth on Tuesday, Hodgson has three wingers who are pushing for two spots in his team, which is a welcome relief from the injury problems they are now suffering in defence.

He said: “I thought Schlupp’s performance at Burnley was really good, so we’re not 100 per cent dependent on Wilf and Andros.

“When they’re playing well and they’re at the top of their form, that’s great and we know we have two good players, but if they’re not, there are others.

“Certainly Jeff Schlupp’s performance up at Burnley – which was a match-winning performance in many ways – emphasised that point.”

Zaha remains the only Palace player to have appeared in every fixture this season and made his 13th consecutive Premier League start on Saturday.

In contrast, Hodgson has rotated Townsend and Schlupp with the pair both making eight starts in all competitions this term.

After a difficult period at the beginning of the campaign, the former England manager is happy to see ex-Spurs winger Townsend bounce back.

Hodgson added: “Andros is a player who will come off after a poor game and admit it.

“Earlier in the season, I didn’t think he was playing anywhere near as well as he should be and with a guy like Jeff Schlupp knocking on the door, I thought it was the right time to put him in and give him a chance.

“Andros took that on the chin, he has fought back and got himself back into the team and in the game against Liverpool in particular really helped us to a good performance.”

While Palace will hope to keep hold of Zaha in January, they have shown they are not merely a one-man team.

The one-time Manchester United attacker didn’t register an assist until September 28 and needed even longer to get off the mark in front of goal.

It is two from two for the 27-year-old now after ending his drought in the 2-1 loss to Liverpool last time out at Selhurst Park and Hodgson added: “We are very pleased to have him with us still and I am very much counting on him.”

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