Hodgson needs to freshen things up at Palace

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace have fielded the oldest average age starting XI this season and Roy Hodgson needs to freshen up his squad this summer.

Alan Hansen famously said “You can’t win anything with kids” on Match of the Day in 1995 and Hodgson appears to have taken that literally during his time at Palace.

Hodgson, who signed a new contract with the Eagles on Friday, is the oldest manager in Premier League history at 72 and has assembled a squad in his image since taking charge of his boyhood club in September 2017.

He has made 14 permanent signings since arriving at Selhurst Park, with differing amounts of success, but has largely opted for experience over potential.

Indeed, four of the six players that came through the doors at Palace this season were over the age of 28, so it’s no surprise that the Eagles boast the oldest average squad in the league at 29.1.

Gary Cahill, 34, brings that average up towards the higher end following his summer switch from Chelsea, while fellow defender Scott Dann is 33.

When looking at the average age of starting XI’s in the Premier League this season, Palace are at the top of the charts.

Hodgson named an XI with an average age of 30.7 when they beat Brighton 1-0 at the Amex last weekend, while the same lineup started the previous fixture against Newcastle.

Palace look set to be playing Premier League football again in 2020-21 with a couple more wins from the final 10 games likely to guarantee their status.

The former England and Liverpool boss, having committed for another term, now needs to start thinking about the next phase of the project.

The Eagles are placed in a good catchment area in London and have a strong reputation for developing players through their academy.

Victor Moses, Wilfried Zaha and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are three to have come through the ranks over recent times.

However, that source appears to have dried up over the past few years with Brandon Pierrick the only academy graduate to feature in the Premier League this season, earning a seven-minute cameo against Norwich in January.

Of course, it could be argued that Palace just haven’t got the right talent in their youth ranks at present.

The under-23 side currently sit one place off the foot of the table in Professional Development League 2 after winning just four of their 20 encounters this season.

Defender Sam Woods made his senior debut in the EFL Cup in 2018 but hasn’t been afforded further opportunities and is currently on-loan at Hamilton Academical.

Nya Kirby, Ryan Inniss, Dion-Curtis Henry and Jason Lokilo have all spent time earning their stripes on-loan in the lower leagues but haven’t been given the chance to prove their ability with the Croyden-based club.

But with an eighth successive top-flight season in reach, Hodgson has more freedom to start blooding some of the youngsters in the remaining stages of 2019-20 to see if they can make the step up.

If not, then he must spread the net far and wide to bring in the brightest and best from elsewhere to ensure the club has a sustainable future when he inevitably moves on.