BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has spelled out exactly why Jairo Riedewald is only viewed as a midfield option – even though he initially arrived in SE25 as a central defender.
The 24-year-old Dutch international scored the Eagles’ first goal in yesterday’s 2-1 win at Fulham.
Riedewald, signed from Ajax in July 2017, has made 42 appearances for the South London club.
He has started back-to-back Premier League fixtures for the first time since January.
Eight of his 19 appearances in the 2019-20 season were at left-back.
But Hodgson has spelled out that Riedewald’s skillset is far more suited to the middle of the park.
“He came from Ajax where he was a very promising U21 player. He was brought in more as a centre-back in the Dutch mould, which I would claim is more of a libero than an out-and-out centre-back,” said the former England head coach.
“We’ve always been impressed with Jairo’s ability on the ball – we’ve never lost faith in him, in that respect. He’s a very good character and he’s been a joy to work with these last three years.
“We’re just delighted we’ve managed to introduce some other elements into his game which means we can really take advantage of the quality he has on the ball. We’re reaping the benefit from it now.
“We’ve not really seen him as a goalscorer but his run today [Saturday] – and the way he finished it – means even that is something he has in his locker.
“Most importantly it’s his ability to get around the midfield and take up the right positions, make good decisions and really use his technical ability.
“From the outset he has always worked as a midfielder for us. We never considered him as a centre-back, because we didn’t think his qualities really suited that position.
“We always thought he’d be a good central midfield player. But to do that he also needs the other qualities that Luka [Luka Milivojevic] and Macca [James McArthur] have given us. It’s what he’s been doing for a period of time now.
“He’s started the season so well, he did well in pre-season. Then, blow me down, just before the first game he got injured. It was unfortunate. He recovered from that, now he’s in the team and he must be delighted in the way he’s performed the last two or three.”
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