Football

Southgate wants Zaha for England

England manager Gareth Southgate has tried to persuade Wilfried Zaha to backtrack on his decision to switch to the Ivory Coast, Press Association Sport understands.

The fleet-footed Crystal Palace winger has two senior England caps to his name, having played against Sweden in November 2012 and Scotland the following year.

But, as both matches were friendlies - and with England opportunities scant - the Ivory Coast's national football association announced late last month that Zaha had committed his international future to his country of birth.

The 24-year-old was born in the West African nation and posed with their shirt just days before Southgate was confirmed as England manager.

The former defender coached Zaha at the Under-21 level and said at his unveiling that he hopes the Palace winger would remain an option for the Three Lions.

Press Association Sport understands the pair have now met to discuss his international future, with Southgate making it clear that he would like the player to remain eligible for England.

While unable to make guarantees about a place in the squad - and keen not to add undue pressure on the player - the recently appointed manager highlighted to Zaha how closely he had been monitored by the senior team.

Zaha, linked again with Tottenham, has been one of few bright points in a disappointing season at Selhurst Park, leading to Alan Pardew's exit last week.

Sam Allardyce has been parachuted into the Palace dugout and took charge of his first match at Watford yesterday.

Zaha played in the 1-1 draw, but could soon be off on international duty if he sticks with his international switch.

Ivory Coast kick off the African Nations Cup in Gabon against Togo on Jan 16, before facing the Democratic Republic of Congo and Morocco. - PA SPORT

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