BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Gary Cahill will miss the start of Crystal Palace’s 2020-21 season – with striker Christian Benteke also suffering with a cracked foot bone.
Centre-back Cahill suffered a hamstring injury against his former club Chelsea at Selhurst Park earlier this month.
“It’s a serious injury and it’s going to take him a good while as there’s a tendon involved in the muscle tear,” Hodgson told the South London Press.
The injury crisis at Palace has seen a number of long-term problems for Hodgson. Left-back Patrick van Aanholt is out, needing surgery for a dislocated shoulder, and captain Luka Milivojevic is a doubt for tomorrow’s home game against Spurs while Benteke, who Hodgson have revealed has a new injury, is banned anyway after picking up a red card against Aston Villa.
But central defence is the biggest headache with James Tomkins out long-term and Martin Kelly, himself having returned from a lengthy lay-off, not fit enough to replace another central defender, Mamadou Sakho, who went off injured against Wolverhampton last week.
Hodgson said: “Martin’s been training now for two or three weeks and he’s getting back to something like his match fitness, but Cheik Kouyate has been playing all the games for a start, and he has played that position both for West Ham and for us with great aplomb on many an occasion.
“It was just my opinion that that would be the best solution, it was a safer option for me to do what we did.
“Christian Benteke’s got a cracked bone in his foot which is amazing really as he played so long with that cracked bone, we thought it was a bone bruise, so we’ve been a bit unlucky but I am afraid I lose track of which player’s got grade three this and grade three that, and which tendon’s involved, as we’ve got so many of them.
“The scans are back on all the players and we know exactly the extent of the damage, and, of course, what happens now is they’ve got to get back into recovery mode, recuperation mode.
“Unfortunately, the doctors are loathe to actually put a definite time on it, and I can understand that because, otherwise, as a manger you’d be banging on their day every day. If they say three weeks, you’d be banging on their day after two-and-a-half saying: ‘Where is he?”
Just under 50 days will separate the finish of this Premier League season with the start of the next after it was confirmed that the 2020-21 edition will start on September 12.
It means that, following their final league match of the season tomorrow against Spurs, Palace manager Roy Hodgson will only have half of the usual time off and half the normal preparation time.
“It’s not long, but the three-week break is going to be very important for the players and the staff,” he told the South London Press. “It’s been a tough, tough Covid period for us, but to be fair, when you’re away from football for a period of time, you soon find yourself wanting to get back
“After the break we’ve then got four weeks [before the season starts], but I don’t think that we’re going to lose as much fitness as one would on a normal [off] season where you go a much long period of time [without training]. So, I think that will be okay – I’m more concerned really for our injuries.
“Under normal circumstances, you’d be looking, with a long break, anyone who’s injured now you’d be thinking at least when we start next season they’ll be there. I am more concerned about how the team and the squad is going to look with so many important players still missing.”
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