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February 23 2019 8.35am

Kelly wants protection for Zaha

August 27 2018

Martin Kelly

Martin Kelly

Crystal Palace defender Martin Kelly has called for referees to protect star man Wilfried Zaha.

Zaha's pace creates havoc among Premier League defenders and many just don't know how to stop him.

Watford's Etienne Capoue escaped a red card after jumping in with both feet on Zaha's Achilles in a potential season-ending injury at the beginning of Sunday's defeat.

Kelly feels the Palace striker is being targeted for rough treatment and has urged the league's officials to make sure Zaha gets protected.

"I think teams are seeing Wilf as our star player now and they're obviously trying to nullify him at the start of games, either doubling up or leaving late challenges on him," Kelly told Palace TV.

"The refs have to look after Wilf the way all top players are looked after for top teams. I think the refs are starting to look at that and doing that and we have to keep him fit every week, he's our main threat."

Kelly, who was a late call-up to the side after James Tomkins injured his calf during the warm-up, reckons Palace deserved more from the 2-1 loss at Watford.

"I think we could have maybe got something from the game but it's a tough fixture coming to Watford," he added. "I know we've previously done well here but it was a sort of game where it could have gone either way and I felt like we were unlucky."

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