Vieira right-lipped on Palace's Afcon players

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Palace need to learn from mistakes - Vieira

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira would not confirm whether three of his players will be available for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

Jordan Ayew, Cheikhou Kouyate and Wilfried Zaha were all due to travel to take part in this month's tournament.

But Kouyate and Zaha were both absent for the loss against West Ham United, with Ayew limping heavily at the end.

Vieira said the first two were "not available" to play, adding "no comment" when asked about their Afcon chances.

When questioned by BBC Sport about Ayew's possible injury, he said: "I don't know, I haven't spoken to the doctor yet."

The 24-team Africa Cup of Nations begins on 9 January and will feature a host of Premier League and Europe-based stars.

English top-flight teams do not have to release players until 3 January.

Kouyate was named in the Senegal squad on Friday while Zaha was included by Ivory Coast and Ayew is part of a provisional list announced by Ghana.

Zaha had been expected to return from suspension against West Ham while Kouyate started Palace's win over Norwich on Tuesday.

Ayew played the closing minutes against West Ham with a pronounced limp as the home side had used all three of their substitutes.

Vieira recently called for more respect for the Africa Cup of Nations.

"I respect and understand the passion and the importance to players to go and represent their country so I will never stop any player going to play the Africa Cup of Nations," said the Senegalese-born former France midfielder.

"I believe that competition needs to be more respected - because this competition is as important as the European Championships."

Despite creating a significant number of chances, Palace lost at Selhurst Park on Sunday after conceding three times before half time.

Goals from Odsonne Edouard and Michael Olise saw them stage a late fightback but they left themselves too much to do.

"We shouldn't lose that game because we were the better team," Vieira told BBC Sport. "Even in the first half, we concede three goals but create more chances, good chances, but we did not take them.

"They did not create a lot and scored three, which shows the individual quality in their team.

"For us it is a learning curve. If we want to win football games we need to score goals.

"But we caused a team that is high in the table problems. If we play like that we will win more than we lose, but we have to stop the kind of mistakes we are making."

At full time Vieira was shown a yellow card for confronting referee Darren England.

"It was overall the performance of the referee," added Vieira. "I don't want to comment on the details but I was disappointed by the way the football club has been treated today on the field."

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