Roy Hodgson has refused to put a date on Wilfried Zaha’s comeback from a hamstring injury for Crystal Palace and has therefore ruled him out of the Premier League clash with Brighton on Monday.
Zaha is Palace’s top scorer this season, as he has scored nine goals and recorded two assists in 19 top-flight appearances. In his absence, however, the Eagles have lost their last two league outings against Leeds United and Burnley, having failed to find the back of the net on both occasions.
Hodgson had previously been cautiously optimistic about his recovery but it has now been over two weeks since he last made an appearance for the club.
“[Wilf Zaha] is still suffering from the injury, there’s no question of that,” Hodgson said in his pre-match press conference ahead of tonight’s game against Brighton.
“The doctors, in particular, and physios are very anxious to not put dates on people so they’d be very angry with me if I suggested dates he could return.
“He’s working very hard to get back as soon as he can. I’m rather hoping the prognosis will be different to the actual timescale.”
Zaha’s absence over the past couple of games has seen Jordan Ayew, Christian Benteke, Michy Batshuayi and Jean-Philippe Mateta all start with a varying degree of success, but they have all done little to make up for the fact that Palace have lost a player who tops the charts for shots taken per game in the Premier League, and who is second for dribbles and third for key passes per match out of the entire Palace squad.
As we mentioned previously, Mateta may be someone who could potentially come in and score goals, but he has been restricted to just one start in his two top-flight appearances since his arrival at Selhurst Park.
And even then, his stats still pale into insignificance next to those of Zaha’s. Mateta has currently only managed 0.5 shots and 0.5 key passes per 90 during his time in the Premier League this season thus far.
Palace have dropped points in their past two Premier League games which has seen them drop to 14th in the table as a result.
Hodgson, therefore, will be rather worried that it doesn’t look like Zaha will be returning anytime soon as they have looked rather devoid of inspiration without him.
AND in other news, Crystal Palace fear losing Wilfried Zaha in the summer…