Roy Hodgson spoke to the press following Palace’s 1-0 win over Swansea on Tuesday night and was understandably pleased with the performance as a whole, answering specific questions on Alexander Sørloth, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Ryan Inniss and Jason Puncheon along the way.
After falling to a frustrating 2-1 loss at Watford last weekend, Hodgson was afforded just over 48 hours to get his team ready for a trip to The Liberty Stadium, with a number of regular first-team stars missing out through tactical preference rather than injury.
Whilst the likes of Zaha, Sakho, Milivojevic and Benteke were all absent from the squad as a whole, it did allow the gaffer to give starts to Max Meyer and Cheikhou Kouyaté in the middle of the park, with both summer recruits performing well throughout the 90 minutes.
Predictably, Alexander Sørloth’s display at the head of the side was a hot topic of conversation for the journalists in attendance at the post-match press conference and Roy spoke glowingly about the Norwegian’s display on the night. Having struggled to make his mark in red and blue prior to Tuesday evening, his winning goal should prove to be a major confidence booster ahead of the bigger tests that lie in wait in the Premier League. Still just 22, there’s plenty of room for improvement and aside from the fact that he’s still relatively raw, the big man took his goal impressively late on.
With Jordan Ayew unable to take part in the fixture as a direct consequence of his loan agreement from Swansea, Hodgson was forced to select Andros Townsend as part of the travelling party, throwing him on late in the game as one of a few first-teamers who are also likely to play a part when Mark Hughes’ Southampton visit Selhurst Park this Saturday.
Whilst Max Meyer will have been grateful for the 90 minutes as he looks to ready himself for top flight action, the likes of Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp were rightly taken off late on in preparation for this weekend’s clash. Alongside them, Aaron Wan-Bissaka returned to the starting XI and was almost certainly Palace’s Man of the Match on the night, proving beyond all doubt that he really is a supreme young talent. It would have been easy for the 20-year-old to look a little sheepish following his recent red card but in truth, his performance showed no fear whatsoever. Whisper it but we may well have a future superstar on our hands.
All in all it was a very pleasing night’s work for the boys in South Wales. Safely into the third round draw without any injuries to speak of, a goal for a striker in need of a confidence boost and a clean sheet to go with it, you can’t ask for much more than that.