Palace boss speaks out about future of £50m Man City, Spurs target

Oli Fisher

Roy Hodgson has dismissed reports of Crystal Palace seeking to sell Christian Benteke and also insisted that they intend to keep Wilfried Zaha.

Belgian striker Benteke has struggled throughout a season in which he has only scored twice despite being their club-record signing, contributing to suggestions Palace hope to offload him.

Zaha has instead been their most influential player in what increasingly appears likely to be a successful battle against relegation, and to the extent he has been linked with Manchester City, the Premier League champions, as well as Chelsea and Arsenal.

“There’s been no discussions (about selling Benteke),” the Palace manager said. “Christian has a contract with the club. We’re hoping he’ll find the form he showed in the last period, between January and the summer.

“He’s left it late but we still hope he’ll find that form and and play an important part in us staying up. There’s been no discussions in the club about Benteke leaving.

“(Zaha is) such an important player for Crystal Palace. He’s Palace through and through. He’s basically a player we regard as our own – the fans certainly could sing he’s one of their own – so we’d like to keep him.

“Transfer speculation will always be rife. There’ll always be suggestions that this or that player is on the move. We don’t think about that. Wilf shows no signs of any thoughts other than helping his club get through the next four games to still be in the Premier League next season.

“Would we at Palace like Wilf Zaha to stay? Of course, yes, and he has four years on his contract, too. Let’s hope that’s sufficient.”

On Saturday, Hodgson’s team visit Watford, where Jeffrey Schlupp is again in contention following his return to training and where a further three points would give them a total of 37, edging them even closer to safety.

The 70-year-old Hodgson insists that his experience with Fulham demonstrates that even with victory Palace would not be able to consider themselves safe.

He unexpectedly led the Cottagers to survival on the final day of the 2007/08 season following a fourth victory from five.

“At Fulham we were so far divorced and won four of the last five. If Fulham can do that, why can’t the other teams at the bottom? It’s very foolish to start speculating in that way, ‘All we need is…’,” Hodgson said.

“Basically, all we need is four more good performances like the last few we’ve given, even in the defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool.

“The experienced or rookie manager suffers the same anxiety, stress, fears and worries that it might not go his and the club’s way. I’m not sure the experience helps a great deal in that respect.”