Roy Hodgson says he understood the frustration shown by Crystal Palace fans when he substituted Eberechi Eze in the FA Cup defeat at Everton.
Eze had been one of Palace’s most threatening players in the first half of Wednesday night’s third-round replay at Goodison Park, which the visitors lost 1-0 courtesy of a brilliant Andre Gomes free-kick.
When he replaced the England midfielder on 64 minutes, Hodgson was met with chants of: ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ from the away end.
“We had to think very carefully about it”, Hodgson said of bringing Matheus Franca on for Eze.
“I appreciate for the fans it’s a long way to come. If I was a fan, I wouldn’t have wanted to see Eze taken off either, as he’s one of our best players.
“But I also would be extremely disappointed as a fan if he’d have played another 30 or 35 minutes and got injured in the process. That would have been extra disappointing.”
Hodgson added: “We play at 12:30pm on Saturday [against Arsenal] and we need people like Eze, who is one of our very best players.
“I would have loved all of my players to play 95 minutes, but we decided, in order to protect as many players as we can, that we would replace them with players who also deserved a chance to play.
“Even without him on the field, I thought we did enough to cause Everton problems and create goal chances — I would say in the last 20 minutes of the game, we had three or four exceptional goal chances.”
Defeat at Everton extended Palace’s torrid recent FA Cup record, with the Premier League side having now crashed out in the third round in four of the last five seasons.
“Once again, we can only blame ourselves that we didn’t take [our chances]“, said Hodgson.