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July 16 2018 2.10am

Puncheon: Wilf can handle bully-boys

July 23 2017

Wilfried Zaha

Wilfried Zaha

Crystal Palace midfielder Jason Puncheon says Wilfried Zaha can beat the Premier League's aggressors.

Eagles winger Zaha came in for close attention last season and was the Premier League's most-fouled player, ahead of Chelsea's Eden Hazard.

Some of West Brom's players roughed him up during the Premier League Asia Trophy match on Saturday but he had the last laugh as Palace ran out 2-0 winners.

Puncheon is aware that sides will get physical on the tricky Zaha, and as captain, has vowed to keep an eye on matters in case they boil over.

He said: "People target him, we know that he's a fantastic player and at times he's going to get upset, but that's for me as captain to keep an eye on.

"Wilf's a young boy, game after game he's getting better, he's got that tenacity about him, we like that from him."

Palace manager Frank de Boer was particularly unhappy with West Brom's physical style of play under Tony Pulis.

He said: "There are always challenges where there is no respect for players. You want to sell the product of the Premier League here [in Asia], so you don't want to see crazy challenges and I saw some.

"We cannot accept that because an exciting player for the Premier League like Wilfried Zaha, you want to keep them fit and they were really looking for him.

"I have to give Wilf a very good compliment how he stayed calm and let his feet talk and not react, I think he made an extra step in his career.

"But he's always a player that will get fouled. But if it's a fair foul, you don't hear me complain.

"For example for the first challenge, if it's a yellow card you have to give a yellow card because you give him a permit to do it again. If he gets the first yellow card, you think OK it's over. I'm just glad that he's still fit."

Palace are reportedly very close to completing the 7.9m signing of Jairo Riedewald from De Boer's old club Ajax.

The 20-year-old, who can operate at centre-half, left-back or defensive midfield, would be reunited with his former boss.

Palace are still apparently chasing Porto's Dutch defender Bruno Martins Indi after he impressed on loan at Stoke last season.

Arsenal defender Calum Chambers is believed to be another player on De Boer's shopping list, on loan, or with a view to a permanent deal.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen is 5/2 to leave Barcelona for Palace.

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