Dan Cook has admitted that he wouldn’t be surprised if Wilfried Zaha doesn’t start for Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup this evening.
Crystal Palace have one of the trickiest ties in the third round as they travel up north to face a high-flying Newcastle United side that have lost just once this season across all competitions.
With the league likely at the forefront of Patrick Vieira’s mind given they are only seven points above the bottom three, there could well be wholesale changes this evening – something Newcastle journalist Chris Waugh has also hinted at recently.
Cook has now relayed those thoughts, claiming on the HLTCO podcast that Zaha may well be handed a rare rest this evening, even if he does remain in the matchday squad.
He said: “We saw Wilfried Zaha deployed in the central striker role against West Ham last weekend. For my money, it worked very, very well.
“He got a goal and an assist, so tangibly, you can see that he made a positive impact on the team across the 90 minutes. but I’m not 100% sure that Wilfried Zaha will be involved, at least not from the start against Eddie Howe’s Magpies this evening.
“Because as much as we do have six weeks off in terms of regular first-team football – and the Ivory Coast, of course, are not going to be involved at the World Cup – you do still have a situation, with one Premier League game left, where we want to be able to go full steam ahead at the City Ground this weekend, and obviously, Wilfried Zaha’s participation remains paramount to our chances of getting a positive result.
“So I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilfried Zaha is in the squad that travels up to Newcastle, but doesn’t actually start the game in the north-east.”
Should Zaha start tonight?
TIF Thoughts on Zaha’s involvement tonight…
The Ivory Coast winger will very likely go down as one of Palace’s best-ever players, and arguably the best to have ever played for them in the Premier League era given the number of appearances he’s made and the amount of goals he’s scored.
Therefore, given how important he had been and still is to Vieira, it remains to be seen if risking him in a cup competition they might not have much chance of winning is really worth it when they have a winnable game against Nottingham Forest coming up at the weekend.
Considering the form Zaha has been in this season, with six goals and two assists to his name, he will likely wish to keep up that run of form and maintain his rhythm by starting tonight against Newcastle – who have been linked with him in the past – but Vieira may decide to be more cautious with his talisman and give him a rest.