Roy Hodgson has heaped praise upon Vicente Guaita’s performances for Palace to date, and added how impressed he has been with the goalkeeper's ability to settle into life in south London so easily.
Guaita made his debut for the club in the Carabao Cup win at Swansea in September, keeping a clean sheet that game and in the subsequent cup victory over West Bromwich Albion - but it has been in the Premier League where he has staked his claim for the starting berth in Hodgson's side.
The Spaniard has made ten league starts, keeping four clean sheets and has conceded just six goals in the league since he was introduced against Leicester City in December.
Speaking ahead of the side’s game against Manchester United, Hodgson said: “At the moment, Vicente has the shirt. He came in when Wayne was injured and played very well, and he’s been able to keep Wayne on the side-lines since that time.”
Hodgson was quick to stress the strength in depth on offer in the ‘keeper department, adding: “Wayne also had two very good games for us in the FA Cup against Grimsby and Doncaster. So we’re still fully aware that he’s available and a very serious competitor for the shirt.
“But only one of them can have it, and Vicente seems to have got his hands on it – it’ll be up to Wayne to wrestle it from him.”
Reflecting on the shot-stopper’s time in south London to date, the manager said: “We knew what we were signing. We worked very hard to get him at the club – it was a six month effort to persuade him that this was the right place for him. Then of course Wayne finished the season so well, he found that when he actually arrived – Hennessey was the one with his hands firmly on the goalkeeper’s jersey."
The way Gauita handled that situation was a testament to his character, with Hodgson saying how impressed he was with the glovesman's approach: "He had to so be patient waiting for his chance, and that really impressed me that he accepted that, he worked hard at his game, he was always fantastic in training and when he got his chance in the League Cup he took it.
“Also the way he’s integrated with the group – which is not an easy thing to do when you don’t speak the language that well and you’ve got a young family to look after. So he’s been very impressive in many respects.”
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