Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew praised the response from Wilfried Zaha to a tumultuous week in which he was the subject of a bid from Tottenham.
Pardew left out Zaha, who told his manager that he wanted the move to White Hart Lane, from the Eagles’ 1-1 draw at home to Bournemouth on Saturday.
“Trust me, I didn’t want to leave him out, but I had to understand the pressures that were on him as well,” Pardew said.
“I made the decision on Friday. He didn’t take being a substitute badly at all. He understood that it was a disruptive week for him.”
“It wasn’t a punishment. It was just me saying ‘you’re probably not focused, let me leave you out on this one’. His actions have been terrific for us and it shows what a good character he is.”
“He had a very disruptive week and I thought it was only fair to him to see if we could get through the game, perhaps even without him.
“But we needed him and he was spot on for us. He was terrific when he came on and he showed why the chairman made the statement he did.
“He’s a young lad, he’s been to Manchester United, he’s come here and done terrifically for us – our player of the year – and, for me, I would play him every game.
“I suppose in hindsight, when you’re only drawing at home, I might wish I’d have started him. I can think of three or four things I would have liked to have done, particularly in the first half.
“But you have to use your experience and he couldn’t have done any more for us in the period he was on the pitch, and that’s all I can ask for.”