Roy Hodgson has described the current injury crisis blighting the Crystal Palace squad as the worst he’s ever been forced to contend with as a manager after Andros Townsend and Jeffrey Schlupp’s names were added to those on the treatment table.
Having travelled to The Amex for last night’s clash against Brighton without the services of seven first-team players, the loss of two regular starters on the south coast has left us down to the barest of bones ahead of this weekend’s game against Sean Dyche’s always dangerous (and physical) Burnley side.
Former Leicester defender Schlupp jarred his knee during an early collision with on-loan Chelsea forward Izzy Brown that also saw the latter substituted, whilst Andros saw the game through the half-time but didn’t emerge from the tunnel after the interval; being replaced by academy man Sullay Kaikai for the second half.
With Palace’s January transfer budget having initially been earmarked to be spent on a striker and goalkeeper primarily, we now find ourselves with something of a crisis in central defence and wide midfield too, stretching the club’s funds far thinner than anyone is comfortable with if we are to have any real chance of maintaining the momentum Roy has built in recent weeks.
Having left Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke back in south London whilst Luka Milivojevic and James Tomkins remained on the substitute’s bench until the final whistle sounded, Hodgson should at least be able to welcome those four back into the starting XI for this weekend’s Premier League commitment but with the likes of Sakho, Loftus-Cheek, Dann, Puncheon, Ward, Schlupp and Townsend all set to be unavailable in the immediate future, it’s no surprise that the press found Roy to be in a rather frustrated mood after last night’s late defeat.
Quite how our squad will cope with the spine being so decimated through injury is anyone’s guess but my first feeling on the matter is not a positive one. Until now, we have been just about muddling through but the loss of Townsend feels like a truly bitter blow for our balance as a side, leaving the club with no choice but to consider dipping into the transfer market for cover if he is expected to be out for more than two or three weeks.
Losing in the final few minutes against your rivals whilst adding more injuries to an already long list isn’t exactly the ideal way to spend a Monday night in early January. Let’s just hope this isn’t a sign of things to come for us in 2018.