Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson was relieved Wilfried Zaha avoided another injury in his side’s 2-0 win at relegation rivals Huddersfield.
Zaha had been out since early February with a knee injury, but returned to help give Palace’s survival hopes a major boost as goals from James Tomkins and Luka Milivojevic secured them their first win in over two months.
“You’ll have seen he took quite a few kicks there towards the end of the game,” said Hodgson, whose side climbed out of the bottom three to within a point of Huddersfield, who remain in 15th place.
“We were breaking out on quite a few occasions and getting the ball up the field and of course Wilf carries the ball.
“On a couple of occasions he was stopped by a foul and the referee gave the free-kicks, but he took a couple of knocks.
“He worked very hard. It was his first full game for seven weeks I think, a long time out.
“I haven’t been given any indication he’s picked up any serious injury, we’re more concerned injury-wise about Jeffrey Schlupp having to come off.
“He’s rolled his ankle and of course you worry some ligament damage has been done, but we won’t know until he’s had the scan.”
Zaha, withdrawn in the 89th minute, had missed Palace’s previous four games, which all ended in defeat. In the nine matches he has missed in total this season, the Londoners have have failed to secure a point.
Tomkins stabbed home from close range following a corner to give Palace a flying start and skipper Milivojevic converted a 68th-minute penalty after Andros Townsend had been brought down by Mathias Jorgensen.
“Wilf got stronger as the game went on I thought,” Hodgson added. “In the first half there were a lot of other players who were very important to us.
“But the longer the game went on and the more it opened out, as it’s going to do at 2-0, with Huddersfield needing to take more risks.
“We had more possession in their half, good situations and that’s where Wilf really comes in to his own, with his pace and ability on the ball.
“He can go by people and that got stopped on a couple of occasions by fouls and one of the fouls, on Townsend, led to our penalty.”
It was Palace’s first win since January 13, while Huddersfield had hoped to take advantage of another home fixture against a relegation rival after being held to a goalless draw by Swansea last week.
“We were below par today,” said Huddersfield boss David Wagner. “We deserved this defeat.
“It’s a defeat I’m able to deal with because I know exactly what went wrong. We were not good enough in ball possession.
“We gave the ball away too easily, we were not calm enough and didn’t dominate possession and this is what you have to do.”