Palace problems providing Hodgson headache

Crystal Palace

Roy Hodgson admits Crystal Palace may struggle to field what he describes as a "valid" 11 for Saturday's visit of Arsenal.

Unlike many of his Premier League contemporaries, injuries meant Hodgson could not make wholesale changes for their FA Cup third-round tie, making five alterations in all.

While some teams changed their entire XI, a number of the Eagles players who have battled their way through the busy festive period were again called into action on Sunday.

Their efforts were not enough though, as Chris Martin scored the only goal to hand Championship outfit Derby a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park.

It means Palace will have what could prove a valuable weekend off at the end of the month as Hodgson continues to count his walking wounded.

Luka Milivojevic, Max Meyer and Jairo Riedewald were added to the list of absentees for the game with the Gunners after the defeat to the Rams.

Skipper Milivojevic received a straight red card for a headbutt aimed at Tom Huddlestone, while Meyer and Riedewald were both withdrawn through injury.

Talisman Wilfried Zaha missed the game through illness but may have been rested anyway and will hope to be fit to face Arsenal.

Defender Mamadou Sakho is also out for a “considerable period” after picking up a thigh injury in the New Year’s Day draw at Norwich. In total, the club’s injury tally is up to 10 players sidelined, plus the suspended Milivojevic and the boss has hinted at a January splurge.

When quizzed on his plans for Saturday, Hodgson admitted that he will need to be creative with his selection due to the sheer number of absentees.

The 72-year-old said: “How many players are we going to need in our squad to put out what we would think is an equally valid 11 in games like this?

“I’ve never known a situation where so many players are injured, so many are perhaps long-term injuries.”

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