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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Simon Collings

Crystal Palace squad ‘surprised’ by Patrick Vieira sacking with Roy Hodgson return considered

Joel Ward says the Crystal Palace squad were surprised by the sacking of Patrick Vieira and has called for unity as they fight to avoid the drop.

Vieira was axed by Palace on Friday morning — just 48 hours before Sunday’s trip to Arsenal — after 12 games without a win.

Under-21s coach Paddy McCarthy was in charge for Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at the Emirates, and Palace want to appoint a new manager during the international break.

Former Eagles boss Roy Hodgson, out of work since leaving Watford in the summer, is one of those under consideration.

Palace are 12th in the Premier League and just three points above the relegation places.

Shock exit: Joel Ward admits Crystal Palace’s players did not see the sacking of Patrick Vieira coming (Getty Images)

“Anything like that comes as a bit of a surprise,” said Ward, when speaking about Vieira’s departure.

“The tough thing in football is that it’s a results business. We had a tough run of games and the hierarchy have made the decision about the direction they want to go.

“We have to respect that and make sure as a club, right from the top, fans to players, we all get together and take care of business. We now have to focus on retaining our Premier League status.”

Hodgson is viewed as someone who could steady the ship, given he knows the club well and kept them up each season during his spell there from 2017 to 2021.

Ward believes whoever comes in has a squad with the necessary firepower to beat the drop. He said: “We have enough leaders that can do the business and we have an attacking threat that can hurt any team.”

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