- Roy Hodgson defends Wilfried Zaha after diving controversy against Watford
- No player has been booked more for simulation since August 2015 than Zaha
- The Crystal Palace boss says Zaha's style of play invites unwarranted criticism
By Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association Sport
Published: 10:52 EDT, 26 April 2018 | Updated: 11:48 EDT, 26 April 2018
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has insisted Wilfried Zaha's integrity cannot be questioned and said players with the forward's ability are 'worth their weight in gold'.
Zaha was forced to defend himself after receiving a yellow card for diving in last Saturday's goalless draw at Watford.
He received a fourth yellow card for simulation since the start of the 2015-16 - more than any other player in that time period - as his penalty appeal was turned down.
Wilfried Zaha has been defended by Palace boss Roy Hodgson after being booked for diving
Hodgson says the Ivory Coast international is the sort of player who is scrutinised for his willingness to run at, and invite challenges from, opponents, something the Eagles boss says should be praised, not criticised.
'I have no doubts in my own mind about him as a player and his honesty and desire to score goals and play the game properly,' Hodgson said.
'He's a great runner with the ball, he's very brave, he takes people on and he goes into areas where there are bodies and it hurts players to go in.
'As a result those players, unfortunately, are always the ones who get accused of cheating because they get fouled and people want to discuss "was it a foul or was it not a foul?".'
Zaha was wrongly denied a penalty in the second half against Watford and instead booked
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Hodgson pointed to similar criticism of Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Dele Alli of Tottenham and says such flair players will always be judged differently.
'Players with that level of dribbling ability and that bravery to go in constantly and take people on in the penalty box and risk the fouls and risk the kicks are worth their weight in gold,' he added.
Palace are unbeaten in three games and enter this weekend's fixtures, where they play Leicester, in 14th place in the Premier League with 35 points, six points clear of the relegation zone.
The Eagles then meet Stoke and West Brom, who occupy two of the bottom three places, in their final two games of the season.
Three points against Leicester at Selhurst Park should be enough to see Palace stay up, but Hodgson wants to finish with a flourish to be certain.
'Thirty-eight points would seem to me to be quite a good total this year, with so many teams not close to that,' he added.
'(But) it's going to take more than three points to make sure we are mathematically safe.
'As far as we're concerned it's a question of trying to make certain - win each of the three matches available and take no chances.'
Zaha faces accusations of diving and has been booked four times for simulation since 2015