BY EDMUND BRACK
Roy Hodgson has downplayed the likelihood of James McArthur returning to Crystal Palace’s first-team before the end of the season.
The Eagles have been offered a considerable boost with Gary Cahill returning to the matchday squad for Saturday’s game against Manchester City while James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho are stepping up their return to fitness.
But McArthur has not featured for the Eagles since the 3-2 defeat at home to West Ham United in late January, with his current injury sidelining him for the longest period of time since he joined the club from Wigan Athletic in 2014.
Hodgson said: “It was an unusual injury, so it’s not one that was quite as easy to follow as some injuries – a clear muscle strain, for example, you know will take two-three weeks.
“Because this one is slightly different to that, and it’s got to do with old scar tissue, it’s making it a little bit more difficult to put a timeline on it.”
While the timeline on McArthur’s exact return is still clouded, Hodgson added, “He’s out there every day. He’s back on the field now training, albeit with the rehabilitation people.
“I am seriously hoping, being who he is and the type of player he is, that we will see him again before the end of the season – because he is a hard man to pin down. If anyone is ever going to play through injuries, it’s James McArthur. I am still hoping that’s going to work out.
“It’s a blow that when this injury first occurred and was diagnosed, we had no thought at the time that it would keep him out for weeks on end and he was going to miss game after game. We thought ‘well, he might miss the next two and then he’s back’ – but it hasn’t been the case.
“We would owe a lot to his determination to make himself available in these last games if we’re going to see him at all.”
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