Wayne Hennessey has the full backing of Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson who insists the Wales goalkeeper did not make a Nazi salute during a night out.
Hennessey appeared to perform the gesture in a picture posted on Instagram by Eagles team-mate Max Meyer as the players celebrated their FA Cup win against Grimsby on Saturday.
The 31-year-old denies making a salute, instead claiming on Twitter that he was calling out to the person taking the photograph “to get on with it” and “at the same time put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry”.
The Football Association is looking into the incident but Hodgson – who stated that Vincente Guaita remains his first choice keeper and will start against Watford on Saturday – is convinced by Hennessey’s explanation.
“I believe him totally. I have no reason to disbelieve him. I fully believe his story and the story of the rest of the players,” the Palace boss said.
“The other players had no awareness of anything inappropriate, so much so that they had no idea before the photo was posted that it had happened.
“Wayne has explained himself very satisfactorily to both me and the club. I know Wayne, I know the type of man he is and I have no hesitation whatsoever in backing him and backing his version of the story.
“Crystal Palace isn’t a club that needs to have any fear about its record in terms of equality and supporting Kick It Out because we’re in south east London where any type of racial discrimination is abhorrent to us. Our club is very good in that respect.”
Hodgson also delivered an emphatic response to Jermain Defoe’s claim that he rejected a move to Selhurst Park in favour of joining Rangers.
Palace are in the market for a striker during the January transfer window after dominating a string of recent games without scoring sufficient goals, but Hodgson insists Defoe was not on the club’s radar.
“That’s not true. We had no interest in Jermain Defoe. As with a number of strikers, I saw Defoe’s name mentioned in relation to the club,” Hodgson said.
“But it’s one thing people relating players to us because they’re anxious to find a move for them and it’s another for our club to initiate moves to sign someone. We state categorically that we’ve made no move at all to sign Jermain.
“I like him, he’s a good player and I’m pleased that he’s gone to Rangers, but we weren’t a candidate for his signature.”
After struggling to dispatch 10-man Grimsby last Saturday, Palace resume their Premier League campaign against Watford at Selhurst Park.
It is the first meeting between the rivals since Troy Deeney revealed that the Hornets “took it in turns” to kick and foul Wilfried Zaha in August as part of a plan designed to contain the Eagles forward.
In the same match, Zaha was the victim of a controversial tackle by Etienne Capoue.
“At the time I made of the comments what everyone else in football made of them – Troy is a very honest guy but I don’t think it was a wise thing to say,” Hodgson said.
“I’m pretty certain that when I see Troy (on Saturday) – I always have a very friendly meeting with him before the game as he’s the opposing captain – and ask him about the comment, I’m certain the first thing he’d say is that it was a mistake.
“With regard to the (Capoue) tackle, that was also a mistake. It was a bad tackle. It wasn’t punished, in our opinion, the way it should have been. But mistakes happen. It has no bearing on the match tomorrow.”News Now - Sport News