BY SAM SMITH
Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Crystal Palace pair Mamadou Sakho and Christian Benteke are edging towards a return to fitness.
Sakho suffered a groin tear in the Eagles’ 2-0 defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the end of last season. The defender started training last week.
Benteke’s last appearance involved a red card against former club Aston Villa on July 12, but the Belgian then broke his foot.
Palace had eight absentees for their opening day win against Southampton, a list mostly made up of defenders.
“There’s some talk of Christian Benteke coming back and joining us in training at the latter end of the week” Hodgson said when asked about players returning before Tuesday’s EFL Cup tie against Bournemouth. “I think that’ll probably mean it will be too early to take part in the game.
“Mamadou Sakho, who’s had one training session on Friday, which wasn’t a hard one as it was the day before a game… He’ll be training with the rest of us on Monday, so he’ll have another week’s work behind him.
“So, it’s gradually improving in that respect, but we’ll still have five or six players unavailable and a further two or three who need more work and game time.”
Jairo Riedewald was another casualty on Thursday. The Dutchman was set to start against the Saints following a successful pre-season. Gary Cahill, Patrick van Aanholt, Nathan Ferguson, James Tomkins and Connor Wickham are long-term absentees.
“I think Jairo Riedewald’s injury is a muscle strain. Normally when we get a muscle strain it’s a grade three strain with tendon involved and it leaves people out for months. We don’t think it will keep Jairo out for quite so long.
“We’ll have another week working with Michy Batshuayi and Eberechi Eze which will also be a great advantage to us.”
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