Roy Hodgson eager to unleash ‘fit and ready’ Wilfried Zaha against West Brom

Roy Hodgson has declared Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha “fit and ready to play” at West Brom on Sunday.

The Ivory Coast international has missed the Eagles’ last two games after he tested positive for Covid-19 last month.

In Zaha’s absence, Palace lost away to Burnley and at home to Newcastle to drop down to 15th in the Premier League, but the five-goal hitman will be part of the squad travelling to the Hawthorns this weekend.

“He was very disappointed to miss those two games, but he’s been with us since having his test and proving negative,” Hodgson said.

“We have enjoyed his presence with us in training this week and he is fit and ready to play.”

Sunday will see Hodgson return to the club where he spent 15 months in charge before he left the Baggies at the end of the 2011-12 season to take the England job.

During his tenure at West Brom, the experienced manager guided the relegation-threatened side to safety on two occasions.

Hodgson added: “I have a great deal of affection for the club. I have been very fortunate, all of the clubs I have worked for in England I have a lot of affection for.

“The West Brom supporters and people around the club were very good to me and supportive.

“I found myself taking charge of a very responsive group of players just like I have here at Crystal Palace and had at Fulham and Blackburn before, so I was fortunate with that as well.

“And luckily we got some results and at all clubs, if you want to be held in any sort of regard by the hierarchy, you need to get some points on the board.”

Palace’s preparations for the trip to the midlands were disrupted at the start of the week when they discovered their most recent opponents Newcastle had been hit by an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the club.

It saw the Magpies’ game with Aston Villa postponed and led to Eagles doctor Zaf Iqbal putting measures in place to prevent a potentially similar situation for the south London side.

But Hodgson was pleased to report everyone in the squad tested negative while he praised Dr Iqbal and player liaison officer Danny Young.

“They worked very hard to make certain the players came in their own cars, people changed and sat in their cars and we didn’t have the usual breakfast and lunch facilities,” he added.

“We went straight from the car, where the player was waiting ready to train, onto the training field and then directly back into the car.

“We did everything to make certain that we were not going to be any environment where players were close together in an indoor area, it was just the training session itself.

“Luckily we had our tests back that day and they proved all negative, so we could get back to our normal way of working, but we certainly made a lot of effort to take all the right precautions.”