Eberechi Eze was naive to visit former club Queens Park Rangers last week and flout Covid-19 health protocols but the winger will not be dropped from the Crystal Palace squad for his actions, manager Roy Hodgson said on Wednesday.
Eze was pictured not wearing a mask while sitting in the directors’ box at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium during QPR’s 2-0 defeat in the FA Cup by Fulham on Saturday.
Palace said on Tuesday second-tier QPR admitted they made a mistake by hosting Eze without the Premier League club being aware.
“A lot of naivety on his part thinking it was ok – it obviously isn’t,” Palace told reporters before Thursday’s league game at Arsenal.
“Does what Eze did deserve leaving him out? I don’t think so. But it does merit a fine. We don’t want our players breaching coronavirus regulations.
“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.”
Hodgson said centre back Gary Cahill is fit to make the trip to the Emirates Stadium, but Mamadou Sakho is still injured.
Palace, 13th in the standings with 22 points from 17 games, face a confident Arsenal side who are 11th with 23 points after winning their last three league games.
Hodgson said Arsenal were “one of the best teams in the country” despite their poor start this season.
“(Manager Mikel) Arteta has been working with them, the way they play, principles, quality… I never expected them to do anything other than recover,” he said.
“It’s somewhat unfortunate we meet them in the middle of it.” (Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge)