BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Before the 4-0 Premier League loss away at Liverpool last week, Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace side had won their last four games without conceding a goal – a top-flight record for the club.
Central defender Scott Dann had played in all four of those matches alongside Gary Cahill, punctuated by a 106-day break due to COVID-19, but was dropped for the Anfield clash in place of French international Mamadou Sakho, returning from injury for his first match since 1 January.
“It was obviously a judgment; we’ve got three, top-quality, centre-backs who all regard themselves as not only a first team player, but whose name is going to be first on the team sheet,” said Hodgson to the South London Press about the selection choice made last Wednesday.
“You can only play two of them. In the first game I chose to leave Mamadou Sakho on the bench and play Scott and then I chose something different by leaving Scott out for the second game and putting Mamadou back.
“Now I’ve got the situation for Burnley to decide which of those two of three players I want to use in the game knowing fully well that I’ve got two top centre backs playing.”
Hodgson also took time to praise the leadership – and possible managerial qualities – of free transfer signing Cahill, with the two-time Premier League champion sitting on 99 league clean sheets going into the clash against Burnley this evening
“After his career, I see absolutely no reason why he won’t go on to be an excellent coach and manager if that’s the line he wants to go down.
“More and more, players these days have more opportunities when they stop playing. “They can go down the traditional route which has existed for players for many years: First, you play for as long as you can, then you start off as a coach and then hopefully you become a manager off the back of that.
“But there are players today that decide: ‘I’m not going to go down that route because there are other opportunities open for me to use what I’ve learned in the game’.
“But I do know one thing, that if Gary wants to be a coach and a manager, he will turn out to be a very good one. I always like to see players who have had good careers and are good characters going into that line of business because it gives something back to football and back to the young players who need their help and education.”
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