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17:00    20 Mar 2017

Sam Allardyce wants more protection for Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce has called for his Ivorian winger Wilfried Zaha to have greater protection from referees, while also dismissing rumours of a move to Tottenham Hotspur.

The Elephants player has been in superb form for Palace in recent matches, with the British media reporting that his performances have caught the eye of title hopefuls Spurs.

However, Allardyce has dismissed such stalk as mere speculation and has argued that his player deserves more protection from referees after coming in for some rough treatment from opposing defenders.

"Spurs were always mentioned because agents or somebody decided to stir the pot," Allardyce said after a 1-0 win over Watford this past weekend.

"We all know who stirs the pot behind the scenes even though they deny it, but we know they do it.

"He gets terrible treatment off the opposition because he's so skilful. Maybe he needs a bit more protection from the referees.

"He's got to realise that's down to his genius ability that these lads can't cope, and because they can't cope they've got to end up fouling him. He can riddle past two or three, his feet are that good.

"He gets kicked as much as [Eden] Hazard. Keep going Wilf, it's a compliment to you when people can't cope with your ability and have to foul you.

"Wilf, smile. Sometimes he doesn't smile enough because he doesn't realise how important this game is and how enjoyable it is. Sometimes he looks a bit miserable so I say, 'Wilf, come on lad, you're the luckiest.'"

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