Football

Southgate irked by Palace chief's Zaha remark

England manager Gareth Southgate has taken issue with Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish's views on the international tug-of-war involving Ivory Coast winger Wilfried Zaha.

Zaha was capped twice by England, in 2012 and 2013, but switched allegiances to Ivory Coast, the country of his birth, late last year and has since made six appearances for them.

He scored a fine solo goal in Ivory Coast's 2-0 friendly win over Russia last week, prompting Parish to tweet: "Never wavered in my belief of @wilfriedzaha, why is this goal not for @England?"

When asked about that, Southgate said: "I'm not sure it's helpful as a comment. I wouldn't comment on his decisions.

"I know the chairman's got quite a vociferous view on it. Steve's an intelligent guy who's done a great job for that football club."

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Southgate, a former Palace captain, previously coached Zaha during his time as England Under-21 manager.

The Palace winger, 24, was the first player he watched after being confirmed as England's permanent manager last November, but by then it was too late.

"I didn't really appreciate there was this disappearing egg timer on him going to the Ivory Coast," Southgate admitted. "I didn't want to just pick him because there was a chance that that might happen. The first opportunity I had as permanent manager, I did go and speak to him."

Southgate added that he is interested only in players who have a burning desire to play for England.

He said: "If you don't feel that internal, 100 per cent passion for playing for England, I'm not sure it's for me to sell that to you." - AFP

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