Roy Hodgson said he was “delighted” to have confirmed Crystal Palace’s Premier League safety and was full of praise for Eberechi Eze.
Eze recorded an assist and a goal as Palace secured a 2-0 win against Sheffield United. Although they hadn’t really been looking over their shoulders, it was enough for Palace to mathematically retain Premier League status for another season.
Whether Hodgson will be at the helm for it remains unclear, with his contract up in the summer. The 73-year-old has done a fine job of stabilising Palace, whatever happens.
With their survival confirmed, Hodgson expressed his delight.
“Yes, very pleased. Not really been worried about it,” he said.
“But you’re quite right, nice to get over that mark. Delighted today.”
Next season will be their ninth consecutive one in the top flight. Hodgson is glad that many players have stuck with them for large parts of that journey.
“I agree entirely,” he said. “What’s more, we’ve done it with a group of players who have been very faithful, very loyal to the club.
“An awful lot of players we’re grateful for, incredible effort.
“The club has wanted to invest more, help out, but we haven’t been able to do that. Let’s hope now that will come about and we’ll get a bit of a boost with new faces like we have done with Eberechi Eze.”
Eze is one of the newer members of the group, after stepping up from the Championship last summer. The 22-year-old now has four goals and five assists from his debut Premier League campaign.
Hodgson has been impressed by the 22-year-old.
“Yeah, very, very good,” he said. “Difficult period, a bit of a baptism of fire with Chelsea, City, Leicester in a row. Not as easy to get on the ball and show skills.
“We know that’s the quality he possesses, we preach that we want to see it and we won’t criticise if he tries it and it doesn’t come off.
“He was bold with the ball, stayed on it, drove forward, and of course got his reward with an assist and a goal.
“If you ask me if I’m happy with him this season, absolutely. He’s more than played his part.
“It’s his first season coming from the Championship and you expect a bit of time taken to adapt, especially with the gulf between the top teams and the bottom. You can’t beat teams anymore by organisation or work rate.”
Hodgson not thinking about Eze future
If Eze continues his growth, other clubs might start plotting moves for him.
But Hodgson said the idea of selling the attacking midfielder was yet to cross their minds.
“Not really thought about that either,” he said. “We’ve only just signed him, quite an investment to pay £15m and £5m in add-ons.
“I wasn’t contemplating that it would be a one-season investment.
“Hope that’s not the case and I believe any interest will be warded off. We brought him in to make us better, not make a small profit after one year.”