BY ROB SUTHERLAND
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson was proud of his team’s performance against Newcastle United despite the outcome, having watched his injury-ravaged side fall to a disappointing late defeat at St James’s Park.
“I’m certainly quite proud of the team’s performance, especially given all the changes we’ve had to make recently due to our injury situation,” said the Eagles chief.
“I was hoping we would win it, let alone lose it, given our second-half performance. We had a lot of the ball, and created a lot of goal chances. But you’ve got to take your goal chances and we didn’t.”
Palace lost to an 83rd minute Miguel Almiron goal, but Hodgson felt that his players did nearly everything he asked of them, citing Newcastle’s aerial prowess and their midfield creativity as key issues.
“During the course of the game we dealt with their threat well. We didn’t let too many crosses into the box and we didn’t allow Andy [Carroll] to get his head on many balls.
“We didn’t let Jonjo Shelvey get on the ball very often, which of course is another big weapon. And as a result, we were able to use the space in midfield, get the ball down and pass it. We were able to use the space in midfield and that led to some good chances.”
Hodgson fielded Cheikhou Kouyate in central defence and said he wasn’t sure whether he would do so again against West Ham on Boxing Day.
“We’ll have to wait and see when I get to training what further injury situations we have and what players are available,” said the Palace boss.
“Today, the team selection was really very simple. Putting Cheikh at the back was an obvious decision to make because there was no real alternative.”
The manager also highlighted James McCarthy’s contribution to the game, following just his second start this season.
“It was good that he got a chance to start today and good that he took that chance. We certainly didn’t lose the game as a result of having moved Kouyate to the back and McCarthy into the midfield, because both of those two did a job for me well.”