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Crystal Palace injury issues may open door for attacker to stake starting claim

BY ANDREW McSTEEN

Andros Townsend could be the beneficiary of Crystal Palace’s attacking issues for tonight’s home game against Burnley.

Wilfried Zaha left the pitch early on against Liverpool last Wednesday as a injury precaution and Christian Benteke was not named in the squad due to a muscle strain.

If the duo are not fit for the Premier League fixture in SE25 then it only leaves the in-form Jordan Ayew and Townsend as established attacking options.

Townsend made his first start since December 7 at Liverpool, a combination of injury and form kept the former Tottenham player out of the manager’s first-team squads.

“It is an opportunity for him, and I am sure he is going to get many chances to play,” said Hodgson, who handed Townsend his England debut during his spell as manager of the national team.

“It has been a bitty season for him, he has been one of those players that we lost for quite some time through injury, but he is fully fit now and has worked very, very hard during this post-lockdown period with the training we have been able to do.”

With Palace on 42 points, their safety is nearly mathematically guaranteed for another season in the top-flight.

Hodgson would like to strengthen his squad, down to its bare bones again, following the unprecedented series of events due to Covid-19 and the restart of the Premier League in the summer.

“Over the past couple of days, I have seen games being played in some quite difficult situations, in almost suffocating heat and it makes it very, very difficult for clubs to keep all their players fit,” he said.

“We do our best, like every club, to make sure our players get the best possible treatment and that we train in the most sensible way to try and prevent injury. It was one of the things discussed when we were discussing bringing the Premier League back in this form, and it was mooted that it could be difficult, because players would get more injuries than they would have had the season been played out in the normal fashion.

“Planning for seasons is a constant process. What will make us better? You’ve got to be prepared for so many different scenarios.

“For the last three years we’ve done some very good business, some very clever business and we’ve got some very good players into the club without spending enormous sums of money. It’s something that we do and that we work towards and no doubt we will be working towards again when the new transfer window does come up.

“It is a calming influence on us that we don’t have the knife at our throat, which we have had in previous seasons, knowing that we’ve got pull out results just to stay in the league and it’s something that I welcome, but every game has got a story of its own.

“All you can do as a player and a coach is make certain you’re ready so you can go out there and do your level best to get the result that is possible for you.”

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