When speaking to the press yesterday afternoon, Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson gave the details of four Eagles players who missed Thursday’s training session, casting doubt over their potential involvement against West Brom.
Having played out a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Brighton at The Amex Stadium on Tuesday, its little surprise to learn that we have one or two walking wounded in the build-up to Saturday’s game, although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Roy disclosed the identities of the four who haven’t trained with an ulterior motive in his head.
With ex-Palace boss Alan Pardew having been unveiled at The Hawthorns on Wednesday, it was no surprise to see Roy asked for his opinion on the appointment, prompting the former England boss to give a rather blunt response to the journalist responsible. Whilst there is no bad blood between Hodgson and “Pards” it’s quite clear that the Palace gaffer was in no mood for niceties yesterday afternoon, leading me to wonder if he’s named the four players who missed out with the aim of influencing the Baggies’ team selection for this weekend’s clash.
It’s no secret that Luka Milkvojevic, Yohan Cabaye and Jeffrey Schlupp all played a major part in Tuesday night’s game, whilst Scott Dann remains an important first-team player. Keeping that in mind, why would Roy happily disclose details of their potential absence if he wasn’t trying to throw a spanner in the works? It could well be that his statement is completely truthful but even so, it’s enough to give Pardew pause for thought when putting together his squad ahead of Saturday and for that, I applaud Roy.
From memory, I can’t recollect Hodgson reeling off the names of potential absentees to the press so close to a key Premier League fixture, making it impossible to know if he’s expecting them to take part or not. Of course, were all four to miss out it would alter our team selection hugely but until 2pm we and crucially Alan Pardew, won’t know for sure.
Having gone three games unbeaten and picked up our first clean sheet of the season in midweek, it would be fantastic to build more momentum with a positive result in the Midlands. Without an away victory or goal for seven months in the Premier League, we could be forgiven for not holding high hopes going into Saturday but I for one feel as though Roy may just be getting somewhere with this group.
Let’s hope he’s got a couple of aces to pull from up his sleeve.