The Anglo-Nigerian made his Crystal Palace debut as a second-half substitute for Jeffrey Schlupp and his boss has explained why that was so
Manager Roy Hodgson has explained why Eberechi Eze began life at Crystal Palace as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Southampton.
The 22-year-old forward, who joined the Eagles in August from Queens Park Rangers, made his debut as a 79th-minute replacement for Ghana international Jeffrey Schlupp.
Even at the cameo appearance, the Super Eagles prospect showed some flashes of brilliance as the Selhurst Park side began the 2020-21 campaign on a winning note thanks to Wilfried Zaha’s 13th-minute strike.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, the former Liverpool and Fulham boss disclosed his motive for starting Eze from the bench.
“It was mainly because he has had so little game time. He came to us not having played in matches for Queens Park Rangers – not even, perhaps, having done the level of fitness work we or he would’ve liked because of course he was in the middle of transfer negotiations,” Hodgson told the club website.
“He came to us and did one session and then played from the start in a game on the Saturday [vs Charlton Athletic] but got injured. He should’ve been going away with England but the injury meant he couldn’t do that.
“We’ve then had to wait until the start of this week to see him in some sort of training again. I knew this was going to be a very physical and tough game, therefore, I thought the best thing to do for the team and the club was to have him in reserve.
And I think it worked out quite well, because in that last 15 minutes, when our wide midfield players, who had done such an enormous amount of work and were beginning to tire, I was able to put him on, and even in that 15 minutes he was able to showcase the qualities he possesses.”
Eze could be handed a place in Crystal Palace’s starting XI when they face Odion Ighalo’s Manchester United in their next English top-flight outing on Saturday.
Before then, they are guests of Bournemouth in Tuesday’s English League Cup game billed for the Vitality Stadium.