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‘I don’t want to put these boys in to fail’ – Crystal Palace boss on plans to cope with Eberechi Eze’s absence

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has described Matheus Franca and Naouirou Ahamada as ‘works in progress’.

Brazilian attacker Franca joined the South Londoners in the summer in an initial £15million deal from Flamengo. The deal could rise to £26m with add-ons.

Franca made his debut for the Eagles, which was delayed after a stress fracture in his lower back was detected during his medical, in the 4-0 defeat at Newcastle in October.

Crystal Palace v Everton Premier League, Selhurst Park, 11 November 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

The 19-year-old also came on as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat against Spurs but has completed the past three Premier League outings without making an appearance.

French midfielder Ahamada, who joined the club last January from Stuggart, is still waiting for his first Premier League start under Hodgson.

Attacker Eberechi Eze is set to be out for up to four weeks after picking up ankle ligament damage in the 2-1 defeat at Luton last time out.

The Greenwich-born playmaker also missed a handful of weeks due to a hamstring injury he picked up after the 1-0 win at Manchester United, with Franca, Ahamda and Michael Olise also sidelined during that period.

When asked if he felt better equipped to deal with Eze’s absence on this occasion, Hodgson said: ‘The only problem with Ahamada and Franca is that the two of them are talents, and they’re certainly works in progress.

“Whether or not they really are ready to step up and take on the mantle of an Eze or Olise, that’s questionable and it would put an awful lot of pressure on them.

“One would like to introduce them like we have introduced Ahamada a couple of times recently. 

“I would like to do the same thing with Franca sometime, without him having to go into a game where the points are very much at stake and we’re playing against a strong and experienced team – there is a risk that you’re putting them in to fail.

“I don’t want to put these boys in to fail – I want to put them in to succeed.

“Franca is doing well in training now – he’s growing on us all the time. He just wants that chance to come his way – as does Ahamada.

“It’s not easy sometimes to give them that chance when you know it’s going to be a very, very tough ask for them, and you’re not certain the way the team is balanced up is going to help them to do it.

“That’s not just a consideration for me as the manager of Crystal Palace – that’s a managerial consideration that all managers are constantly juggling.

“When is the right moment to bring them in? When are they ready? Who knows?”

PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD

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