Belfast Telegraph

Letting Zaha turn his back on England would be a 'big mistake' - Alan Pardew

England will be making a "big mistake" if they allow Wilfried Zaha to become an Ivory Coast international, according to Alan Pardew.

Zaha is in sparkling form for Crystal Palace this season, so much so Eagles boss Pardew claims the winger is as good as Argentinian duo Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano who played under him at West Ham.

Winger Zaha earned two caps for England almost three years ago but will be able to switch allegiance to the country of his birth as both matches were friendlies.

Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate has said he would like to speak to the 24-year-old before he makes a decision.

But Pardew has warned England they need to pull their finger out if they want to persuade the player, frustrated at his lack of international recognition, to stick with them.

"Gareth is someone I know very well and we've spoken about Wilf," he said.

"You've got to be really proactive with someone like Wilf if you want to secure him. I keep encouraging Gareth, and (FA technical director) Dan Ashworth as well.

"There are some good wide players in the country; Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andros Townsend, Jesse Lingard, and I think Wilf is as good as them, if not better.

"I've managed 300 Premier League games, I've managed Tevez and Mascherano, I've managed Teddy Sheringham, Yossi Benayoun, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick - and I put him right up there with all of those.

"How big is the danger of him switching? It's very dangerous at the moment. He is more than split about what has he got to do to get a chance.

"I don't know what else I can say to him. 'Score a great goal'? He's just done that. 'Work really hard'? He does that every week.

"I can only get from him an application to be better every day. That's what he's given me so why shouldn't I shout his corner?

"I'm English, it's important to me. England really need to keep an eye on that situation."

On Wednesday Palace face Manchester United, who bought Zaha for £10million in 2013 but sold him back to Palace after just one unsuccessful season.

"A disappointment like that can make you," added Pardew.

"That's how I've tried to channel his energy. It's not about showing people at Man United what you can do. Just be a better player. That's what he's doing."

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