(Reuters) – Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has warned Watford mascot Harry the Hornet not to provoke the crowd in Sunday’s Premier League match at Vicarage Road and reignite diving claims that have surrounded Wilfried Zaha in the last two years.
Harry the Hornet dived on the pitch in front of Zaha after the Palace winger was booked for simulation during a 1-1 league draw at Watford on Boxing Day in 2016.
The Ivory Coast international claimed there was an “agenda” against him after being shown a yellow card for diving at the same venue in April this year. [nL3N1S029T]
“Zaha does not dive,” Hodgson told reporters ahead of Sunday’s trip to Watford.
“If you’re asking me whether Harry the Hornet, who I presume is the mascot, should dive in that way, I think it’s disgraceful, because that’s not what football matches are about.
“And certainly if it’s provoking the crowd into looking for something that’s not there, it should be stopped.”
After coming off the bench in Palace’s 2-0 defeat by Liverpool, German midfielder Max Meyer is in contention for his first Premier League start this weekend.
Hodgson is excited by the potential of the 22-year-old, saying the club have found a player in a similar mould to Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, Liverpool’s Naby Keita and Lucas Torreira at Arsenal.
“He (Meyer) is similar to a lot of the players that seem to be coming into the game at the top level here,” Hodgson added.
“Kante was obviously one but we have now seen the Keitas, Torreiras and these type of players come that many years ago would have been considered too small, or not robust enough but their qualities mean they are more than big enough to play.
“I think we have signed a player who seems to be finding a position in many teams in the league.”
Palace will be without defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka this weekend after the 20-year-old was sent off in Monday’s 2-0 defeat by Liverpool.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)