Belfast Telegraph

Pardew: Zaha can get smiles better

Wilfried Zaha returned to Crystal Palace with a reputation to repair but Alan Pardew is confident the winger can become one of the country's best if he starts playing with a smile on his face.

The 22-year-old made the move from Selhurst Park for Old Trafford two years ago, but it quickly went sour for Sir Alex Ferguson's last signing at the Manchester United helm.

Zaha barely got a look in under Ferguson's successor David Moyes after returning from a loan with Palace, leading to a temporary deal at Cardiff and then another move to south London.

The winger made his Palace return permanent last month and has impressed Pardew since his arrival, especially during Saturday's 3-1 defeat of QPR.

"There are two things with him: firstly, I don't see him smiling enough and secondly, he takes everything like a massive disappointment," Pardew said. "Now that's a player who has been damaged.

"What I mean by that is if he doesn't get a pass, he can have a little sulk - not for long, just for a couple of seconds, but that's enough in the Premier League for something to happen. And he does it in training too.

"I'm saying this publicly because I think it's important that he understands that he needs to get rid of it.

"He played with a little bit more of a smile on his face (against QPR) and when you do that you can show a bit of exuberance and try things.

"I think the Man United thing came too early for a young player who, let's be honest, didn't get enough of an opportunity there.

"He needs to get rid of it now and move on and build his career again.

"There's no reason, in my opinion, why at his age he can't get back to Man United again as a seasoned player who knows how to deal with the situation better."

Zaha's performances may be improving but he seems a way off returning to Roy Hodgson's senior England squad, although the Under-21 European Championship is on the horizon this summer.

It is a tournament Pardew would love the winger to be involved in, despite Zaha having not featured in the Young Lions' recent squads and not exactly embraced being part of the 2013 set-up in Israel.

"I know Gareth Southgate very well and I'll speak to him," Pardew said.

"Wilf has definitely found himself a little bit more and I think Gareth would like somebody in the squad who has the kind of quality that Wilf does.

"But he's got to do it between now and the end of the year and push for a place in that squad - that should be a goal for him."

The fact Pardew is already looking ahead to the summer shows how well things are going at Selhurst Park.

For QPR, though, the prospects are looking grim after yet another loss for which a number of players were absent.

Rio Ferdinand was among those and manager Chris Ramsey insists the former England international missed out due to illness rather than form, having been particularly bad against Tottenham the previous weekend.

"Rio is under the weather, he didn't travel," the QPR boss said. "He is not well, pointless him being around the lads. We already have enough problems with people not available.

"He would have been playing were he not under the weather. At the bottom you can read into everyone's performances.

"His knee is an issue. It's a cause for concern. He has a bad knee and from time to time it flares up.

"His knee isn't quite ready and we hope he will be ready for next week. I'm sure he will be back.

"Injuries and sickness come at all different stages and times. Whatever happens you will have to deal with it."

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