Crystal Palace coach Roy Hodgson says he intentionally rested striker Jordan Ayew in the 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur to give a chance to Connor Wickham who had just recovered from a long injury layoff.
Although Wickham, 25, made a huge statement by scoring the opening goal and had a hand in the second goal by Andros Townsend, Hodgson insists that Ayew remains his first option in league games.
"The fact is that he's worked hard to get where he is, it's good that he's had the chance today. Had it been a league game he wouldn't have had that chance as Jordan [Ayew] would have played in the centre-forward position," Hodgson was quoted as saying by Football.London.
"But I intentionally decided to rest Jordan so he could play and he took the opportunity which is very credible and I'm very pleased about.
"I don't want to say anything that could even be interpreted as remotely negative, but it is two incredible years and the fact is coming back and playing for 70 or 75 minutes and getting a goal, it can't get much better than that for you, but if you suddenly believe 'well that's it now and now it's going to be just like it was four or five years ago when I was in my prime' I think that would be too much to ask," he added.
Palace will play Southampton in the league on Wednesday with a trip to St. Mary's Stadium.
Ayew has made 17 appearances in all competitions this season and boasts of two goals.