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Zaha wants to play for England not Ivory Coast, insists Hodgson

England's Wilfried Zaha in training at the Friends Arena in Sweden tonight. Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA wire England's Wilfried Zaha in training at the Friends Arena in Sweden tonight. Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA wire

Tuesday, November 13, 2012
8:06 PM

Roy Hodgson insists he only wants players who are 100 per cent committed to playing for England after selecting Wilfried Zaha in the squad for tomorrow evening’s friendly encounter with Sweden in Stockholm.

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The Crystal Palace winger is also wanted to play for the Ivory Coast - the country of his birth - and inclusion for a non-competitive international will not affect his eligibility.

Zaha has assured Hodgson he wants to represent England but second thoughts or doubts from any player about taking up such an honour would in any case receive short shrift from the head coach.

Hodgson said: “It is very simple for me. England, for me, is very important. To be asked to play for England is a major honour and a major feather in people’s caps.

“I am not interested in people who are deciding whether England is where they want to be or whether they want to be somewhere else.

“I have a simple attitude towards it. When people are called up I expect them to come running, get on a bicycle and cycle to the training session if they have to.

“Then they shake hands with everyone and tell everyone how happy they are to be there.

“There is all this nonsense about players receiving phone calls and being enticed away.

“If they are going to be enticed away, they will be enticed away. But if they are being enticed away they are not the right player for us.”

As regards Zaha’s commitment, Hodgson said: “I spoke to him before he joined up. I explained to him we were interested in him, but only if he was interested in us.

“He assured me he was. He has played for England at Under-21 and Under-19s.

“It seems to me fairly obvious if you want to play for the Under-19s and Under-21s, and are very happy to accept a call-up to the first national team, then that is where you want to play.

“Perhaps I am too simple. He has told me that is what he wants to do.”

Hodgson admits Zaha was a transfer target during his spell as West Brom manager.

He said: “Wilfried has been chosen because I’ve watched him over the last couple of years.

“He was a transfer target for West Brom when I was manager there.

“We followed him and I know the type of player he is, the qualities that he brings and, when an opportunity arose with a gap in our squad, it was the obvious thing to ask him to come in.”

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