WILFRIED ZAHA is happy to be Crystal Palace’s elder statesman but is still not convinced by Patrick Vieira’s attempts to make him an out-and-out forward.

The Ivory Coast international struck his 14th goal of the season in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Watford and was part of a line-up that included Michael Olise and Ebere Eze.

Injuries to the aforementioned younger duo at certain parts of the season has prevented boss Vieira from playing the talented trio together as much as he would have wanted but he will hope that is a different story during the 2022-23 campaign.

Zaha, 29, said: “It just shows what the club has in store.

News Shopper: Crystal Palace forward Wilfried ZahaCrystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha

“Mikey is 20. That is how good he is already, so imagine what he will be when he matures into a (fully) grown player. He will be unbelievable.

“It is nice that I can be part of it and play with these young lads. I feel like I am the oldest with all these young kids.”

This has been a record-breaking goalscoring campaign for Zaha, whose previous best tally was 11 and this is only the third season in which he has hit double figures in terms of goals.

Vieira has at times deployed the Eagles’ academy graduate through the middle of a front three rather than on his preferred left side and it worked to good effect in the 2-1 win at Southampton last month.

The Palace manager joked in the week he had to convince Zaha to play there but did insist it was a position where the attacker could “excel” for his boyhood club.

“No, I don’t,” the 14-goal hitman admitted when asked if he could see himself as a central striker.

“But the gaffer has got his ideas. I have got mine and we will see how it goes.”

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