Alan Pardew has nudged England to call up Wilfried Zaha as talk he could be tempted to aid Côte d'Ivoire’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying bid gathers pace. The 24-year-old winger was born in Abidjan but moved to Croydon when he was four years old. He has won two England caps, both as a late substitute in friendlies – in a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-headlined 4-2 loss to Sweden in 2012 and a 3-2 win over Scotland the following year.
Thereafter, Zaha endured a fruitless spell at Manchester United, but a return to Crystal Palace has revitalised his career. Despite Pardew’s team losing their last five games, their No11 has set up a goal in each of his last four appearances, and only Kevin De Bruyne, Nemanja Matic and Philippe Coutinho have recorded more assists than him in the 2016/17 Premier League.
“I think Wilf is hoping that England come for him,” said Palace manager Pardew. “Personally, I think he's done more than enough to warrant a place. Look at the numbers. Even during this run his defensive work has been good, the assists are starting to rack up.
“The ball's in England's court. I can understand his frustration. He's played with players who are picked at that level, and feels he deserves another chance. He's had a chance at junior but not at senior level. There aren't many other English players who can beat players like he does in the Premier League. Some do, but they're not English.”
Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard, Theo Walcott and Andros Townsend, who can all play out wide, were in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad.
England top Group F in European qualifying for Russia 2018, two points above Slovenia and four clear of third-placed Slovakia.
Côte d'Ivoire head Group C in the final round of the African preliminaries, two points north of Morocco and Gabon after two matchdays. Only the pool winners will reach the 21st World Cup.