Eberechi Eze: Crystal Palace should not drop playmaker over Covid breach, says Roy Hodgson

Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze should not be dropped despite showing “naivety” when he became the latest footballer to breach coronavirus protocols last weekend, says manager Roy Hodgson.

The playmaker attended former club Queens Park Rangers’ FA Cup tie with Fulham on Saturday and failed to wear a mask at all times while at Loftus Road.

Eze, 22, was also not socially distanced, with just a seat between him and another person in the directors’ box.

A statement from Palace on Monday insisted they would deal with the matter internally and described his actions as an “error of judgement”.

“It was very disappointing. It was a lot of naivety on his part to think he was OK to do those things. It obviously isn’t,” Hodgson said, ahead of Palace’s game against Arsenal on Thursday – live on Sky Sports.

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“He has apologised and will learn a harsh lesson from it and we will have to act internally to make sure it is a lesson well and truly learned.”

It is understood Eze’s attendance was conditional on him complying with Covid-19 protocols and returning a negative coronavirus test. He complied with all of these.

The FA has told Sky Sports News it will be looking into Eze’s attendance and the governing body has stated that, contrary to some reports, it did not grant the 22-year-old approval to go to the game.

Eze will be fined but will not be pulled out of the squad to face Arsenal.

“Does what Eze did deserve leaving him out? I don’t think so,” said Hodgson.

“But it does merit a fine. We take this very seriously. We don’t want our players breaching coronavirus regulations.

“I think he did it naively and foolishly, not a determined gesture to break a rule but he did. We’re not happy at all and we show that by fining him.

“I’m not a big fan of that over the years, but on this occasion, I think this error of judgement deserves it and he has to be cautious not to make them again.”

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