Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira has told his players not to rely on the returning Wilfried Zaha ahead of Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa.
The 30-year-old Ivory Coast international is back in the fold for Saturday’s Premier League trip to Aston Villa after missing the last four games with a thigh injured suffered against Newcastle in January.
The Eagles have lost only once in Zaha’s absence but have drawn their last three matches and, while the striker will provided an added cutting edge, Vieira is adamant that his is only one of his side’s weapons.
He told a press conference: “He doesn’t take the pressure off other players, it is more just one strength that we have in the squad.
“Of course, Wilfried can score goals from individual quality or individual talent that he can show during games.
“The responsibility of the players around has to be massive as well. We can’t put all our hopes on only one player. I want everyone to take responsibility, I want everyone to perform as best as they can.
“There are lots of players who can give more to the team to allow Wilfried or the other players around to score goals.”
Zaha has trained for the last two weeks and Vieira is hoping his return helps Palace to build upon draws with Brighton, Brentford and Liverpool.
He said: “Having Wilfried back is one more weapon. There is no doubt about his confidence and his self-belief, and the quality he has in front of goal.
“But if we want Wilfried to score those goals, we need to create opportunities, create chances and the team has to perform well.
“If we manage to keep the quality we have shown in the last couple of games, we will get three points.”
Palace are 12th in the table after last Saturday’s 0-0 home draw with Liverpool, four points behind Unai Emery’s men, who won 2-0 at Everton last time out, and Vieira knows things will get no easier this weekend.
He said: “It’s been really challenging. It’s a tough run, but you have to play those teams. It is difficult, of course, one after the other, but I strongly believe there are no easy games in the Premier League – especially when every point is important.
“We have to focus on ourselves, how we can improve between the Liverpool and Villa games. There were a lot of positives to take from Liverpool to challenge ourselves, to build confidence and to perform.”
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