Wilfried Zaha deserved a place in Team GB, says Dougie Freedman
CRYSTAL Palace boss Dougie Freedman says the club felt Wilfried Zaha deserved a place in the Team GB football squad for the Olympic Games.
The 19-year-old Eagles star missed out on selection for the 18-man squad this week, despite being named in Stuart Pearce's 35-man provisional squad.
And Freedman said he was disappointed for the young winger, who he feels deserved an opportunity to play at the Olympics after scoring nine goals in 48 appearances for the Eagles last season.
He said: "We are very disappointed as a club as we felt he deserved to be in there for his performances.
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"We feel he should have made it."
Zaha, a product of the Crystal Palace academy, has scored 10 goals in 93 appearances for the club since making his professional debut on the opening day of the 2010/11 season against Leicester City.
He has since played for England's U19s and attracted attention from several Premier League sides, while he was named the npower Championship young player of the year for 2011/12.
As a result of his omission, Zaha will now be available for Palace's pre-season schedule, although Freedman said he felt the experience of playing in the Olympic Games in London would have been more beneficial for the youngster.
He said: "Pre-season is about getting you fit and focused for the season, but I feel him being in the squad would have been good for him and would have done that.
"He would have been doing the training with them and he would have been back for the start of the season."
Zaha could still, however, receive a late call-up to the squad as he remains on standby should anyone pick up any injuries or become unavailable.
And he has been widely rumoured to be in contention for a call-up should striker Daniel Sturridge be ruled out of the competition.
The Chelsea hitman is currently being treated for suspected viral meningitis and it is not yet known if he will be available for Team GB at the time of the Games - leaving a possible opening for either Zaha or Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes.
Stuart Pearce can call up a replacement for his squad up until July 25 – the day before Team GB play their first match of the Olympics against Senegal.
Team GB will also face the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay in the group stage of the tournament.