Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson insisted he did nothing wrong in playing and captaining Luka Milivojevic despite footage emerging of the Serbian breaching Covid-19 protocols on New Years’ Eve.
Crystal Palace secured a 2-0 victory over Sheffield Utd thanks in large part to a superb solo goal from Eberechi Eze.
His goal will be a strong contender for the goal of the season award, but not all news was positive coming out of the game.
The first goalscorer – Jeffrey Schlupp – was one of two players along with Christian Benteke to be substituted through injury.
Speaking in his post-match press conference (via Football London), Hodgson provided a worrying injury update on Schlupp.
“[Christian] Benteke is a dead leg. Schlupp is more concerning, a muscle injury, his hamstring.
“We’ll have a scan but it looks like we’ll miss him for a while.”
FULL MATCH REPORT: Eze stakes goal of the season claim as Crystal Palace sink sorry Sheffield Utd
News recently broke of a breach in Covid-19 protocols when Milivojevic was seen mixing with Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrović on New Years’ Eve.
Responding to the growing controversy, Hodgson said: “Well I didn’t know about it, we were told the story was going to break.
“It was in his household having Mitrovic round to join him. That’s a clear breach of the rules. We condemn it, apologise for it and expect him to do. It’s an internal matter.
“Neither he nor Mitrovic tested positive. We weren’t concerned about breaching Premier League protocols, so it was right he played.
“I don’t accept that. I must say I’m rather surprised there was an outcry from the Palace fans.
“But on the other hand, this is a breach of government guidelines which we didn’t want to happen, we’re very unhappy with it.
“But for that to impact on him playing and the captaincy? No.”
Eze learning from Zaha
Goalscorer Eze also spoke to BBC following the match, and revealed Wilfried Zaha is the man he is attempting to emulate in his game.
“I am always practicing, always training and improving in any way I can,” said the ex-QPR winger. “I tried to take my opportunities when I get in that position.
“I believe in myself and back myself but there is lots of work to do to get the best of myself.
“I try my best to help the team and Wiflried Zaha too, he is a great player and I am working my hardest to help the team.
“He is a great player and he has loads of qualities that I can put in my game.”
Regarding his sensational solo goal, he told Sky Sports: “I just saw quite a lot of space and thought I may as well take the chance, thankfully I did.
“To be fair when I got into shooting range I just thought I’d try my luck. I used the defender because the keeper hasn’t got the best vision.”