Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says Wilfried Zaha has 'the X Factor,' but has warned the Eagles fans not to heap a high level of expectation on his shoulders in his first few games back from injury.
The 24-year-old has been sidelined since the first game of the season with a knee injury, but is set to make his return to first-team action against Chelsea on Saturday, where his side are aiming to register their first points and goal of the league season.
Zaha, who scored seven goals in 37 appearances for Palace last season, has witnessed his side drop to the bottom of the league table following seven defeats in his absence, and Hodgson has spoken of his game changing ability which will be of increasing importance in the weeks to come.
Speaking ahead of Zaha's return for the Eagles clash with Chelsea, Hodgson said, via the Mirror: “He has got the X Factor. He can dribble and beat people, which not every player in the league is capable of doing.
“Most of all he has a special place in the hearts and minds of the Crystal Palace supporters. I think they will feel more comfortable now that he is back believing he is the type of person who, with his ability, can change a game and turn a defeat into a draw or a draw into a victory.
I honestly think Zaha is in the top 6 wingers in the league, if he played for Monaco everyone would want him.— Angus🐝 (@OxladeChambo_) October 11, 2017
“There is a big psychological factor with him coming back and being able to play again.
Despite praising the 24-year-old's ability, the former England manager was quick to manage expectations of the fans as he added: “I’d rather urge people to give him the benefit of the doubt in the first game or two he plays back.
“He’s been out for six weeks and has done ever so well to be back in this time. So to expect him to be in the form he was in before the injury is a tough ask. But who knows?"