England Should Look This Way For An Exciting Option

There is no greater pride than seeing a Palace player getting capped for England.

One of my first fond Palace memories was seeing Andy Johnson substituted on in an international match against the Netherlands. It shows that the player is at the peak of their game and it still remains a strange, yet satisfying, concept to me to see our players on a global stage.

Now, the time has rolled around when all sorts of players are being touted to make the squad for the forthcoming European Championships in France this summer.

I am clearly going to be biased towards the players I watch every week, but I seriously believe that our very own Wilfried Zaha should be in contention.

In recent weeks, despite the terrible form that the majority of the team has displayed, Zaha has shown persistence and ability. It is the hardest I have seen him work in his time here, he has been tracking back relentlessly, as well as causing the opposition many issues in an attacking sense.

This is what is needed to become an international player, a well rounded game.

Some may point the finger and say that he still does not contribute enough in terms of goals and assists, only registering two goals and one assist in his Premier League appearances this season. I will agree, this is criminal for a player of his ability.

However, what the statistic do not show is the havoc that he can cause. He strikes fear into the opposition defence every time he runs at them, and he has started this on a more regular basis rather than fading out of matches.

Take the Tottenham match, for example. He was my man of the match, and gave Danny Rose, a player in and around the England setup, a torrid time. In a match where we had to relieve the pressure, he was vital in providing an outlet, and did brilliantly to set up Martin Kelly for the goal. He lured players around him and that created the space for Kelly.

His decision making is always improving as well, and he is learning that sometimes the pass is the easier option rather than trying to take on half the team on his own.

With the quality of England players an upgrade on the Palace players (arguably, anyway) it will give him even more space rather than being doubled up on constantly. Give Wilf a one on one situation with any full back in the world, and I believe he can get the better of him if he is on his game.

It may sound like I am massively overestimating him, but I cannot think of another player like him at England’s disposal, so surely he could provide an interesting option off the bench for Roy Hodgson? I do not expect Hodgson to agree at all, but with Ray Lewington watching on at White Hart Lane his performance cannot have done him any harm at all.

His temperament may leave a lot to be desired, but it is this hunger to beat players that makes him so dangerous. He has to make sure he does not let it boil over though, as it almost did against Bournemouth at home. Teams are going to target him more and more after seeing his reaction, and one more vehement complaint to the referee could have seen him sent off. Everyone in the stands were urging him to leave it, and eventually Mile Jedinak managed to pull him away. In some situations, the captain may not be so on the ball.

The problem with Wilf is that this time next month it could be a completely different situation. It looks like he is finding consistency after his stint at Manchester United halted his development, but it could prove to be a false dawn.

His spell at Old Trafford could flag up some other issues as well. Can he perform out of his comfort zone? He knows he is appreciated and important at Palace, which raises his confidence to keep trying in a match. Although he was not really given a proper chance at United, you could tell he was bereft of confidence when he came back on loan last January. A poor performance for England could set him back even more.

He has had lots of Premier League experience and must trust in his own abilities at the highest level by now. I have sung his praises very highly in this article and some will disagree and say he is not ready.

However, as I mentioned earlier, there are not many players in the Premier League like him, maybe even the world. Not in terms of quality, but for sheer unpredictability and ability to make a chance at any time in a game. He would be a brilliant wildcard to have.

I doubt Hodgson will pick him for the Euros, but I feel he is going to be missing a trick. Or many tricks!




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