Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson refuses to step on Gareth Southgate’s toes when it comes to Eberechi Eze despite a two-goal afternoon from the England hopeful.
The 24-year-old netted either side of half-time at Selhurst Park to lift his side to a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth, who could still secure their mathematical Premier League safety this weekend depending on results elsewhere.
Eze was believed to have been amongst the names on England boss Southgate’s long-list ahead of the World Cup, but former national team manager Hodgson made clear he would not try to influence any decisions about his midfielder’s international future.
He said: “It’s a question for Gareth I’m afraid, Gareth and [assistant manager] Steve Holland. I know they follow the team, our team closely, they follow the players, so what I’ve seen they will have seen and it will be totally and utterly up to them if they decide if what they’re seeing is what they’re looking for.
“No one would be happier for Ebs if he got selected, but I’m certainly not going to be the person who starts making those suggestions and telling the national team coach what he should do.
“I had four years of people telling me what I should be doing, so I made a definite rule that if I ever got back into club football no one is every going to pick up a newspaper, Gareth Southgate, and hear ‘Roy Hodgson thinks’.
“Roy Hodgson thinks what he thinks, and if Gareth ever wants to know what I’m thinking he knows where to find me, and we’re close enough friends for him to ask me.”
Eze, who has now netted 10 times for Palace this season, has thrived since Hodgson’s arrival in March and has credited the 75-year-old manager for an uptick in performance.
His first goal against the Cherries came as a result of some fine work from Wilfried Zaha, who evaded his marker and sent the ball in the direction of Jordan Ayew, who flicked the ball backwards to his team-mate for a neat finish after 39 minutes.
Michael Olise then became the first player in Palace history to pick up 10 assists in a single Premier League season when his long ball found Eze after the restart to set up a mazy run ending in an impossible save for Neto in the top right corner.
O’Neil’s side have all but assured themselves top-flight safety, but Saturday’s result means they may not have the chance to secure it on the pitch if results at Everton and Leicester, on Sunday and Monday respectively, go in their favour.
It will still be another week before Bournemouth can take their campaign to 40 points, but O’Neil himself will be turning the big 4-0 on his birthday this Thursday.
He said: “I won’t be celebrating. We’ll get to the end of the season and reflect on everything. I’ll have a clearer picture on what we have achieved, what we had and where we fell short, where we need to improve, what we’ve done well.
“In the summer I’ll give myself a small amount of time before we get ready for next season.
“Hopefully it’s mathematically done. We were looking to take care of ourselves today, but I think the fact that we were all but safe with four to go is a big achievement for the group and they should be very proud of what they have achieved.
“But a nice little reminder for them today that if you take your foot off the gas and you try and stand still then things can go past you very, very quickly.”