Holloway questions Hodgson motives over Zaha's England call-up

The Crystal Palace boss worries that his star may have made his debut for the wrong reasons, with just four minutes of football against Sweden amid talk of Cote d'Ivoire interest
Ian Holloway has suggested that Roy Hodgson gave Wilfred Zaha an England cap to pressurise the Crystal Palace attacker to choose the Three Lions over the country of his birth, Cote d'Ivoire.

The Elephants have also shown their interest in the striker, whose stellar form in the Championship has drawn plenty of attention, ahead of the African Cup of Nations in January.

The Eagles manager suspects that Zaha's four-minute cameo in England's 4-2 Sweden defeat was the wrong decision and did not give the winger an opportunity to show his ability.

"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 ­pressurise 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 four-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," he continued. "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."