Hodgson admits Palace ‘have to cope’ with defensive absences

Roy Hodgson admits Crystal Palace have been forced to their stretched resources in defence ahead of Saturday’s clash with Watford.

The Palace manager will make a late call on the fitness of Scott Dann and Gary Cahill, with Mamadou Sakho suspended and Joel Ward, Patrick Van Aanholt and midfielder Max Meyer also ruled out.

Hodgson remains confident the Eagles will manage and praised Cheikhou Kouyate for his performance in a makeshift defensive partnership with James Tomkins after Sakho’s dismissal against Bournemouth on Tuesday.

The Eagles boss said: “You’ve got to cope. I’m more concerned in some ways about the injuries to Ward and to Patrick Van Aanholt because that does involve an awful lot of shifting around of players.

“And at centre-back if we lose so many as we had on Tuesday night, there was still Cheik Kouyate to go back there and do an excellent job that he so does so often for Senegal.

“He’s capable of playing both positions. Because we have so many centre-backs, we use him in midfield but that doesn’t mean to say he’s not a very competent centre-back.”

Hodgson admitted there was no timescale for Van Aanholt’s return following a hamstring tear, while Ward could be missing for a further six weeks.

Watford are currently on their third manager of the season after interim head coach, and former Palace midfielder, Hayden Mullins took over following the sacking of Quique Sanchez Flores.

The Hornets suffered a club-record 11th consecutive home league loss when beaten by Burnley before the international break but Hodgson does not expect the match to be straightforward.

When asked whether it was a good time to play them, the Palace manager said: “Not particularly, I think Watford is a tough game for us.

“It’s one of those sort of semi-derbies if you like where there’s always a little bit more of an edge to the game.

“Whenever we play them we’re aware that we’re in for a tough battle, for a tough fight and I don’t think the fact that they’ve now changed their manager is going to change much at all.”