Gareth Southgate has hailed Wilfried Zaha’s attitude ahead of England’s Under-21s game against Lithuania today.
The 20-year-old didn’t feature in England’s 4-0 victory over San Marino in midweek but Southgate never intended to use Zaha in both matches given the plethora of wingers he has at his disposal with the Under-21s.
And despite playing no competitive football this season, Zaha will feature against Lithuania today where Southgate feels he will have an opportunity to ‘show people what he is capable of’.
“It is tough for him,” Southgate said.
“It is tough for any player when they are not playing regularly.
“Wilf has joined a new club with all the difficulties that brings.
“But it was never my intention to play him in both of our matches this week. He understood that. But he has got the opportunity now to show people what he is capable of.”
The problem that faces Zaha now is that he knows he must impress immediately because his chances will be few and far between, something which puts real pressure on the youngster tomorrow to deliver a convincing performance.
Whether he can handle that sort of presssure remains to be seen. However, Southgate isn’t worried that Zaha won’t be able to deliver after watching him in training this week.
“Have I noticed a lack of confidence in him? No,” he added.
“There is probably some frustration because he just wants to play.
“But he is at a fantastic club and he realises that to get in the team is going to take a lot of work and patience.”
It may only be a game with England’s Under-21s but it is competitive. Zaha will know that if he puts in a blinding performance, David Moyes will sit up and take notice ahead of Southampton’s visit this Saturday.
Zaha’s lack of game time has led to The Telegraph’s suggestion that he may be sent out on loan in January but that could be premature.
There is still plenty of time for Zaha to stake his claim on the first and he will be buoyed by Adnan Januzaj‘s rise knowing that he could have the same impact if given the chance. A top class performance against Lithuania today could be the perfect way for Zaha to get that chance.