He’s been out of action since April but yesterday afternoon, Crystal Palace first-team star James Tomkins made a return, playing in the U23s defeat at the hands of QPR.
The 30-year-old was named as an unused substitute in the Eagles’ 4-0 defeat away to Spurs just over a week ago but was left out of the squad altogether for the visit of Wolves to Selhurst Park this Saturday just gone. It’s highly likely that Hodgson placed Tomkins on the bench in North London as a simple consequence of a lack of alternatives but against Santo’s men back on home turf, he was at least able to name other senior defenders in his place.
Whilst the result against QPR didn’t exactly go to plan, Tomkins involvement will be seen as a success by everyone involved. The experienced defender came in and took the game seriously, completing an hour of football before being brought off as planned. At that point the game was delicately balanced at 1-1, with the Hoops scoring two late goals to seal the victory in Tomkins’ absence but the bigger picture is one that will surely please Roy Hodgson.
How he plans to approach this weekend’s game at home to Norwich remains something of a mystery. Gary Cahill has hit the ground running in our colours and is likely to retain his place in the side whatever happens but the gaffer may well roll the dice and decide to take Mamadou Sakho out of the starting XI after two underwhelming displays upon his return to competitive action.
Tomkins’ presence and match fitness is a positive in any light, adding strength in depth to the group in what is already shaping up to be an extremely competitive run of games in the early going.