BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Roy Hodgson has spelled out his priority is to end Crystal Palace’s losing streak – not to give minutes to some of the younger players in his squad.
The Eagles have lost six Premier League matches on the bounce, scoring twice and conceding 15 times – the experienced manager’s worst sequence of results in the top flight.
Academy graduate Tyrick Mitchell, 20, could start at left-back in place of the injured Patrick van Aanholt tonight against Wolves.
But it appears that fellow academy graduates such as central defender Sam Woods – an unused substitute in the last five games – and forward Brandon Pierrick – who has appeared on the bench for all seven games since the campaign restarted – may have to wait until next season for any serious game time.
“We want to try and win the last two games and we know it will be very difficult because these nine games [since the restart], only two are against teams that aren’t right up there playing for European places,” said Hodgson.
“When you start giving young players a chance to go and show what they can do and leave fit, senior players that you think might be more apt to help you win the game on the bench, that’s when you’ve reached a position of extreme luxury and that’s a position that we are far from after this long run of losing games – the last thing we can afford to do is to throw youngsters in just to give them a little bit of experience.
“As far as I am concerned, there’s two more opportunities to break this sequence that we’re in at the moment and we’ll be trying desperately to do that, first against Wolves and then against Tottenham.
“Hopefully we’ll do it by producing the sort of performance that I thought we were capable of producing, most recently against Manchester United, and then we’ve got to hope that any decisions out there go our way and not against us which unfortunately has been the case in the last two games; the disallowed Sakho goal [against Aston Villa], the disallowed Ayew goal, and the penalty which many people seemed, like us, to believe was a clear penalty but wasn’t given [against Manchester United].”
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