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ROY HODGSON supported Wilfried Zaha yesterday in his pursuit of greater protection — but Crystal Palace have no intention of making an official complaint to help his cause.
After last week’s 1-0 victory at Huddersfield, in which he scored but was again fouled, this time by Mathias Jorgensen, Zaha said: “I’d have to get my leg broken for anyone to get a card. That’s why I lose my head. Why am I getting different treatment from other players?”
Gary Lineker said that he should take the intense attention he receives as a “compliment,” but the incident was the latest in which he appears to have been targeted. Watford’s Etienne Capoue had already been accused by Graeme Souness of trying to “nail” Zaha in a fixture earlier this season.
That he has already been fouled 11 times since the league began has contributed to concerns about the treatment he receives, but Palace will regardless resist contacting Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) to demand greater protection for their most influential player.
“People are entitled to say what they think, if it is heartfelt and honest,” said Hodgson. “It is the person making the comment who has to stand for that, and I don’t think it is for others to chip in and make comments about it.
“He said what he had to say and he has no reason to apologise for that. We want to move on from there. Let’s hope that he will survive the coming matches in the way he wants to. Our chances are better with him in the team.
“After every game, clubs are asked to comment and send in a report on the game. I’m pretty certain we did that, as we do after every game. But there’s been no specific contact with the Premier League or Mike Riley and his people at all. I see no reason for that. We’ve not made any overtures to the Premier League or the PGMOL.”
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez added his voice to the cause, calling on the Football Association to look into Zaha’s plea.
The Spaniard said: “I’m surprised because normally the FA deal with these comments, but I have a lot of confidence in Andre Marriner.
“He has experience — even if his record with our players is not the best in terms of red cards but I am quite confident.
“He is a very good referee with experience and he will deal with the situation in a normal way.”
However, Benitez insisted the Magpies would not change their plans for dealing with Ivory Coast international Zaha today as a result of his cry for help.
He said: “Not really. He’s a good player, no doubt about that, but I think the FA has to deal with these comments and I’m sure that Andre Marriner will not have this in the back of his head.
“The way that he plays, normally he will receive more tackles than other players because he likes to run at players. It won’t make any difference for our players.
“You can maybe get 20 players in any competition talking about the same thing. Players with pace and ability are normally exposed to these things. It’s something we cannot change.
“You cannot ask for a red card before the game. It is something we cannot control, but maybe someone else will make a point.
“A few weeks ago, we were playing against Chelsea and Manchester City and they don’t have just one, they have 11. It’s a normal situation for us.
“We know the player, our players know him and they will deal with him in the same way they would for another player from another game.”
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