Roy Hodgson desperate for Zaha’s return

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Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has admitted that he is desperate for Wilfried Zaha to return from injury.

Hodgson feels winning without the winger on Monday night was a special moment for Crystal Palace, but he remains desperate for the return of his star man.

Palace snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Monday evening thanks to a last minute volley from Christian Benteke.

Ahead of the trip to Brighton, the Eagles had lost 18 of their previous 20 Premier League matches when the injured Zaha was absent, including all five this season.

The manager expressed his joy about getting maximum points away from home, but said he would be pleased to get the former Manchester United player back in the fold as soon as possible.

“That (Zaha’s absence) was mentioned in the dressing room after the game,” he said. “But I must also add as I have done on a few occasions that it would be still very, very nice to get him back.

“People should remember that at the moment we are playing without five regular first team players. We have two centre backs out in James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho and we’ve got midfielders out (Jeff Schluppp and James McArthur) then we’ve got Zaha.

“I would defy any team if you take players of that quality out of the team to continue playing at the level they had played at to that point. But I still think the return for the number of games is good.”

Veteran defender Gary Cahill echoed his manager’s sentiments regarding Zaha, but stressed it was crucial not to be reliant on one individual.

“We’ve proved that wrong. The stat obviously speaks for itself, such is his quality. His presence in the team is vital. Ever since I’ve been here that has been apparent.

“We obviously wish him a speedy recovery and hope to get him back very soon along with others.

“He’s a big player for us, but we need to move on. We can’t just rely on one player all the time. To get the positive result is satisfying.”

The Ivory Coast forward has a hamstring problem and was side-lined for a third successive match after already missing the recent defeats to Leeds and Burnley.

After the victory, Palace is now 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

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By Prince Sobayeni 

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