Despite being Crystal Palace’s brightest star in a blistering start to their Premier League season, the mercurial Wilfried Zaha continues to be ignored by Roy Hodgson’s England.
After seeing his Manchester United dream cave in on him, Zaha has proved a player reborn since his return to Selhurst Park. Upon finally making his comeback permanent on February 2, transfer deadline day, the 23-year-old has taken the bull by the horns in the Premier League.
The youngster undoubtedly struggled at the Theatre of Dreams, and after making his England debut whilst still playing in the Championship, Zaha swiftly found himself pinned to the bench amidst the calamitous reign of David Moyes.
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However, upon being given game time in the top division, the pacey winger has proven himself a consistent performer under the spot light.
Despite there being 13 internationals in the Eagles' squad, Zaha remains the only player to own a single England cap. In fact, Zaha (2012) and Andrew Johnson (2005) are the only Palace players to earn a Three Lions call-up in the 21st century.
The reign of Alan Pardew has particularly stimulated Zaha’s form with his exciting injection of attacking football. The persistent selection of Yannick Bolasie and Bakary Sako is testimony to Pardew’s bold style of football.
Such daring play compliments Zaha. The backend of last season saw his form explode and such quality has transcended into the 2015/16 campaign.
In the Premier League this term, nobody has completed more dribbles than Zaha. Moreover, his jaw-dropping dribbling resulted in Palace being awarded match-winning penalties against West Brom and Watford.
Just recently, the ex-Cardiff City winger proved instrumental in his side’s inspired victory at Anfield, in which the London club inflicted Jurgen Klopp’s first defeat as Liverpool manager.
However, despite these vast improvements and immaculate performances, Hodgson seemed keener to deploy the forward when he was learning in the Championship.
The selection of Jesse Lingard further adds to the mystery of Zaha’s three-year hiatus from the England side. The 23-year-old has played considerably more minutes this season, provided an equal amount of goals and assists, all in a weaker team, yet Lingard still took preference.
His selection over Zaha boils simply down to the fact that he is a United player.
There are few players in England that have the burst of skill, dribbling and invention the forward possesses. As Euro 2016 approaches, Hodgson must realise that players like Zaha will prove crucial in the summer as an injection of raw talent can prove critical when the chips are down.
Sitting eighth in the table, it’s been a superb start to the season for the Eagles. However, albeit their side oozing with English talent, Hodgson seems to be nonchalantly evading Selhurst Park.
Calls to select Scott Dann - and even James McArthur - have been emphatically ignored, never mind the exploits of Zaha.
If the selection of Jamie Vardy is meant to provide fans proof that selection is based on form and not the team they represent, then Hodgson can surely no longer ignore Zaha as Euro 2016 draws closer.
As long as the winger continues this vein of form then a call-up will surely be due, because if England find themselves losing in France, Hodgson will need a player like Zaha to turn the game on its head - and turn defenders inside-out.
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