Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway has questioned Roy Hodgson's motives for calling up Wilfred Zaha and giving him just four minutes in England's international friendly against Sweden, suggesting that it may be an attempt to pressure the striker into committing to the Three Lions rather than his country of birth, Ivory Coast.
The Elephants have also shown their interest in the striker, whose stellar form in the League Championship has drawn plenty of attention ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations in January. Holloway suspects that Hodgson played the frontman to lure him into pledging his future to England, with a brief cameo for the Eagles' striker not enough time for him to prove himself.
"Was it because the England manager wanted to see how my Crystal Palace striker would handle international football just a few days after his 20th birthday? If so, why the hell did he give him just four minutes of action in Sweden in a friendly that had already slipped away from his team? Every other substitute got 20 minutes. And that worries me," Holloway told the Daily Mirror.
"I've got a horrible feeling that the reason Wilfried was given a first Three Lions cap because it was a way to pressurize a young lad into committing himself to England rather than the country of his birth. Wilfried was born in the Ivory Coast and moved to live in London as a 4-year-old. Not surprisingly, after seeing how well he has been playing for Palace this season, Ivory Coast are also on his case with the African Nations coming up in the New Year."
Holloway also rubbished claims in the press that his striker compared himself to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, stating that the 20-year-old is a shy, pleasant individual who deserves his place on the world stage.
"Believe me, he is not the kind of person to make those outrageous claims," Holloway said. "I was just as dismayed that some people questioned his right to represent England when he is playing his football outside the Premier League. This would be the chance to see if Wilfried Zaha was worthy of all the hype.
"If people had done their research properly they would have discovered that my first game as Palace boss was against Blackburn. Blackburn's left back that day was Martin Olsson - the same Martin Olsson who lined up for Sweden and who Wilfried took apart when Palace beat Rovers 2-0."
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