The rebirth of Bakary Sako

Crystal Palace fans have hailed Bakary Sako as a player transformed, since Roy Hodgson took charge.

Sako has become a brilliant impact substitute for Palace, and he helped the Eagles turn around the match against Southampton.

The Saints had taken the lead when Shane Long scored in the first half, but Sako’s introduction was the turning point in the game.

Sako came on for Jeffrey Schlupp in the 64th minute at St. Mary’s, but he quickly set about helping his team pick up the three points.

The rapid winger scared the Southampton defence, and Palace ended up picking up a vital there points with both James McArthur and Luka Milovojevic getting on the scoresheet.

Eagles fans have now called for Sako to be given a starting role, as his performances off the bench have deserved so much credit.

Sako says it's Hodgson who has helped him successfully transition into his new role as a striker.

Sako, 29, has scored two goals in his last four Premier League appearances having moved into a centre-forward position from his more conventional position as a winger.

"I was not used to playing as a striker but under Roy Hodgson I have learned a lot and have been delighted to have the chance to play there. I am getting used to what is expected in that role," he told the club's official website.

"He has spoken to me about the importance of the movement, what is expected of me in different areas and I am learning all the time and obviously it has been good to have scored a couple of goals whilst playing there.

"The manager has got loads of experience and that is why it is so good to pick all that up from him when he puts across his instructions to you and he has helped me so much since he has come in.

"He is a manager who is really focused on what he wants so on the training pitch as a squad we keep working on different methods until we get it right and that must continue for us to succeed."

Sako says he is also learning from playing alongside fellow Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke and was delighted to see the Belgian score his first goal of the season against Leicester.

"He is a good friend of mine and a great guy and I was so pleased for him when he scored that goal," he said.

"We know each other well and he is a striker who always wants to score and is a really good professional and has done so well since joining the club.

"He is so good to play alongside because as well as being strong in the air he can also hold the ball up well and obviously everyone knows the number of goals he has got in the box getting on the end of crosses.

"He will be vital for us in the second half of the season and goals will give him confidence."

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