Roy Hodgson is eager to help Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha reach his “reasonably high” goal target for the season and prove to everyone how exceptional a player he is.
The 28-year-old scored for the eighth time in the Premier League this term in Monday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester which is double the amount he achieved in the 2019-20 campaign.
A constant criticism of the Ivory Coast international has been him not being clinical in front of goal and he has only hit double figures once in his career.
Yet with eight goals in 14 league games, the Eagles academy graduate is on course to beat his best ever tally of 10 and his manager appeared to reveal the drive behind the winger after the club’s final game of 2020.
Hodgson said: “He is getting a lot of praise and fully deserves the praise. We are very pleased with him, pleased with the passion he showed throughout and pleased with the effort and desire he is obviously showing.
“It is great he is getting some reward and a lot of those eight goals have been very good goals. We still have a long way to go in the season, we are not even halfway through and I think Wilf has set himself a reasonably high target.
“We will be trying to push him and help him all the way to get that target of goals because there is no doubt when he can really prove to people he has got added goalscoring powers as well as his powers of dribbling, holding onto the ball and creating chances, then he will prove to everyone what an exceptionally good player he is.
“But he doesn’t need to prove it to us because we see it on a regular basis.”
With the January transfer window around the corner, talk about the future of Zaha could be set to rumble on again.
This time last year Bayern Munich reportedly attempted to sign the Palace number 11 on loan and despite plenty of interest in the summer, there were no genuine offers forthcoming.
Zaha seems set to spent the season in SE25 and showed no hint he was about to become distracted against Leicester where he clashed with Foxes full-back James Justin in the first half.
“It’s just passion that I play with. People may see it as I don’t know anger or whatever, but I just have passion,” Zaha insisted.
“I love what I do and I can’t just stand around and watch other teams because when we play, we have someone up our backsides the whole time, so why can’t we do the same? That is how I play every game.
“I’m just trying to make sure I’m playing well and that the chances keep on coming. I’m happy to score my eighth goal but it’s all about the team.”
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers admitted they were unlikely to be too active in the winter transfer window after they made three key acquisitions in the summer.
He also reflected on what they can aspire to achieve in 2021 with a big onus on the return of supporters once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
“If there’s something that we think could really help us and improve us, then the club will always look at it, but I don’t think there will be anybody coming in for the sake of it,” Rodgers said.
“We all hope we can come out of this year and go into next year with a lot more optimism and get back to what we consider to be normal life.
“In terms of football that is getting the supporters back in so from a football perspective I have been really pleased with the continued development of the team.
“A lot of lessons have been learned this year both positive and negative and that is learning, that is development with young players and we have been consistently up there and hopefully we will continue to be.”