Cape Town - England
coach Gareth Southgate wants to convince Crystal Palace forward
Wilfried Zaha to reconsider his Three Lions future - less than a week
after the attacker completed his nationality switch to represent the
The 24-year-old represented England twice in 2012 and 2013, but
having not made his competitive debut, he remains eligible to feature
for the Cote d’Ivoire, the land of his birth.
With the Africa Cup of Nations fast approaching, the Elephants opted
to recruit the former Manchester United man, and after months of
negotiations between Federation Ivoirienne de Football president Sidi
Augustin Diallo, coach Michel Dussuyer, Zaha’s agent and family.
However, their hopes of using Zaha at the Nations Cup in Gabon next
month, where they will look to defend their continental crown, appear to
be at risk after Southgate made a plea to the forward to reconsider his
"I cannot assess that until I speak with him. I would like to speak
to him before we make a decision and happy to make that happen,"
Southgate told journalists at the weekend, after watching Zaha in action
in Palace’s victory over Southampton, having been asked about the
chances of the attacker reconsidering his decision.
"We are still first and foremost hopeful that we can speak to Wilf,"
the newly installed English boss added. "He’s a player I’ve obviously
worked with. At the time, I had him with the Under-21s. First few months
he played very well for us then he had a difficult period for
[Manchester United]. [He had] a loan spell at Cardiff that didn’t go so
"At the stage we had players like Tom Ince, who was performing better
in the Championship out wide for us so he dipped out of that group,"
Southgate continued. "Then obviously over the last couple of years, with
respect no one was questioning him not being in our [Euro 2016] squad
"But he has played very well this season, I saw him at Everton where
he played okay," the 46-year-old continued, "He played well at Burnley
where in the second half I thought he was excellent."
Despite a troubled season for Palace, who lost six games in a row
before beating Saints 3-0 at the weekend, Zaha has emerged as one of the
Londoners’ key players, having scored two goals and contributed five
assists in 13 appearances so far this term.
Victory over Southampton eases the pressure on under-fire boss Alan
Pardew, and carries Palace up to 13th in the table, three points clear
of the bottom three.
"I had a conversation with Pardew about him that week leading up to
that game," Southgate continued in quotes relayed by the Telegraph. "I
had a conversation with Steve Parish about him at half-time during that
game. He is someone who I said to Alan I am aware of.
"I only had a few days to make a decision [on the squad for Scotland
and Spain games in November] and I had a squad that had done pretty well
in October and I wanted to build on that. We had Adam Lallana and
Raheem Sterling coming into that.
"But [Zaha] is certainly someone who has talent, is in a good moment
with his club, and ideally I’d like to talk to him before he makes that
Should England succeed in convincing Zaha to return to the fold, the
loss of the uncapped wideman could come as a severe blow to the
Ivorians, with the attacker ostensibly representing an ideal replacement
for injured wideman Gervinho, who will miss the Nations Cup.
While Salomon Kalou continued his recent revival with a goal for
Hertha Berlin at the weekend, it remains to be seen whether the former
Chelsea man and Bournemouth’s Max Gradel can fire the Ivorians to a
successful title defence.