Hodgson On Tough Xmas For Palace
Manager Roy Hodgson has admitted Crystal Palace are going to have it 'hard' over the festive schedule despite our recent signs of improvement.
With an away trip to Swansea City just ahead of Christmas Day, we do have a few days break before facing Arsenal, Manchester City and Southampton in quick succession and whilst it's hardly perfect from our point of view, Hodgson knew we just had to make the most of it.
Speaking to Crystal Palace FC as he met with the media this week, the former England gaffer explained.
'That`s just the way things go. I think it`s unfortunate if you`re one of the teams that gets moved for television and you only get one day of rest. I don`t know how many days rest Southampton will get before we play them. I think we`ve only got two days between when we play Arsenal and Man City, which is pretty much what everybody has, but then we`ve only got one day between our game against Man City and Southampton away - I find that harsh.'
Hodgson went on to say.
'But on the other hand I understand too that the television does play a big part in our lives in the Premier League, they pay a lot of money, and we do have to do these things. But if you were asking if I`m happy to play two very, very important matches - Man City at home and Southampton away - with one day in between then I can`t lie and sit here saying it`s perfectly fine because we`ll find it very hard. We find it hard with two days or three days in between matches, let alone one day. Particularly because we don`t have a very big squad. I know in the programme you see lots of names but if you really talk about the Premier League squad, the squad`s very small, especially now we`ve got injuries.'
Having referenced injuries, he went on to speak about those ahead of Leicester City this weekend.
Mamadou Sakho remains out following the calf injury he picked up against Bournemouth but as of now, no date has been set on his return.
'It`s far too early to tell - it`s a serious muscle strain or tear. Doctors will not put a timescale on it but it`s going to be a while, that`s for sure.'
Full back is also an issue going into the game as Timothy Fosu-Mensah was set for a scan yesterday evening following the hamstring issue he picked up against Watford, and Joel Ward remains out with his groin strain.
Luka Milivojevic is suspended for the game having picked up his fifth yellow card in midweek and Damien Delaney has now undergone an operation with Hodgson saying he was 'recovering well.
Bakary Sako also featured for Hodgson in his press conference as he spoke about him being an alternative up front for the mis-firing Christian Benteke.
'Bakary scored a good goal the other night because he followed the ball in. We haven't been doing that as well as we would like, it's something that we preach but may not always produce, but he did. He followed the shot in and when the goalkeeper couldn't hold it he scored from the rebound, that's something alone which we find very positive. He's improved in terms of understanding what we require from him as a centre forward - or as a top forward. He's one of the players who has improved the most over the last couple of months. He`s getting closer and closer - and that puts the front players under more pressure. I'm certainly not afraid to use him, I wasn't the other night and it didn't surprise me that he came on and scored a goal. I know that he can score goals.'
As for Benteke, Sky Sports also have him saying.
'Of course when your front player - the man who is a pivotal focal point in your attack - is not scoring, it's a concern. It's a concern to him, it's a concern to us and it's a concern to fans. He can do nothing more than keep working at it, keep working very, very hard.'
'If the goals aren't coming he needs to be making certain he's making a good contribution to the team's play, both in terms of our attacking and our defensive play. We certainly can't afford to carry anybody, let alone carry a goalscorer that isn't scoring goals.'