Hodgson spells out Benteke blow

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has given a downbeat update about the return to action of striker Christian Benteke, who recently underwent surgery on a knee problem.

The 27-year-old Belgium international has been out of action since early September, but a statement from the Selhurst Park club on Thursday hinted that Benteke might return sooner rather than later.

I think it will take until into 2019 before we see him, but hopefully earlier than later in 2019.

Roy Hodgson

However, Hodgson has now confirmed that that is not the case, with his player definitely ruled out until the New Year and, perhaps, well beyond then.

He told Sky Sports: "We tried the conservative route to put an end to his knee problem, which he has suffered with for a while. That didn't work out.

"There was always the risk that if it didn't work out an operation would be necessary and I got the bad news that the operation was necessary, had taken place and now he will be out for a long period of time.

"It's an operation and normally operations take time. It is dangerous for people like myself to start saying 'it will be this amount of time', because you fall foul of the doctors and the sport scientists who have a different view.

"But there's no doubt we won't be seeing much of him this year. I think it will take until into 2019 before we see him, but hopefully earlier than later in 2019."

Benteke joined the Eagles from Liverpool in the summer of 2016 and has since scored 18 goals in 71 Premier League appearances for the Londoners.

Palace are currently priced at 6/1 to be relegated this season, while they are available at 1/9 to beat the drop.

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Hodgson monitors midfielder market

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has again spoken of ensuring his club are amongst the bidders if Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek becomes available.

The 22-year-old England international has made just two appearances as a substitute for the Blues in the Premier League so far this season, sparking talk of a possible January loan exit.

Loftus-Cheek spent the whole of last season on loan with the Eagles and impressed enough to secure a place in the England squad for the World Cup 2018 finals in Russia.

And Hodgson has made no secret of his admiration for a player who was a key player in helping Palace power away from relegation danger last season.

He told reporters ahead of a Saturday visit from Wolves: "What I am prepared to say and I've said it on many occasions, is that Ruben Loftus-Cheek did an outstanding job for us when he came here.

"Luckily for us, and even more so him, it got him recognised by the national team and he found himself in Russia representing England, which was a perfect end to the season that he had had with us.

"So, we admire him, we like him very much and wish him well and of course – like a lot of other clubs I'm sure, when the day comes when he becomes available for transfer we will be sticking our nose into that.

"But, whether we will get him again, that's another matter. Who knows, we'll see."

Palace are currently priced at 9/1 to be relegated this season, with Southampton available at 9/2 and Brighton 9/2.

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Conversion the key for Palace

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is determined to try and keep confidence high among his goal-shy Eagles squad, who head to Bournemouth on Monday evening.

Palace have scored a mere four goals in six Premier League games so far this season, having failed to find the net at all in three outings at their Selhurst Park home.

Wilfried Zaha has three goals to his name, with Jeffrey Schlupp the only other goalscorer for the Eagles.

However, Hodgson is not overly concerned, as he has seen his side carve out plenty of chances, only to fail to convert – which he hopes is a fault will be rectified in the near future.

He told reporters: "We have created many chances, so it forces one to consistently look back to the misses and the missed opportunities, because in the bulk of the games we have played, we had that many chances.

"It's harrowing to come off the field at 0-0 when you have seen that many chances.

"I believe as long as you are creating those chances and you are getting in those positions, the goals will come.

"What you do is make certain the players believe in themselves, they keep working at their game and they share your belief that if you keep doing this then you will score goals."

Palace have claimed a win and two draws from their three previous Premier League visits to Dean Court, and are 5/2 to secure a draw on Monday evening.

The visitors are 12/1 to win the game 2-1, with Zaha available at 2/1 to score at any time.

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Hodgson confirms duo’s absence

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has said that Jairo Riedewald and Christian Benteke will miss Monday's trip to Bournemouth.

Riedewald picked up an injury in the midweek EFL Cup victory at West Brom while Benteke remains sidelined and will play no part against the Cherries.

The Eagles are 12/5 to beat Bournemouth and 12/1 to edge the match 2-1.

Hodgson said: "We picked up an injury against West Bromwich Albion with Jairo Riedewald but luckily we don't think it is as bad as we first feared when he had to come off so early in the game. He has had a scan and we are hoping he will be back in training towards the end of next week.

"Christian Benteke, we are monitoring on a day-to-day basis. He is improving but he is still having treatment so he is out of the question, but other than that we have a clean bill of health."

Wilfried Zaha should be able to feature against Eddie Howe's team despite picking up a "slight spasm" during last weekend's goalless draw with Newcastle United.

Meanwhile, Hodgson is expecting Monday's match to be a difficult test for his side, adding: "Their start has been good, there is no doubt about that with 10 points from six games being a very good reward and they must be really confident.

"They haven't changed their team spectacularly and their football has been pretty stable for the last two seasons which has given them very good results so obviously they have no reason to change. We are preparing for a very tough test."

Hodgson waiting on Zaha fitness

Crystal Palace will make a decision on Friday about whether forward Wilfried Zaha has recovered sufficiently from a groin injury to face Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Zaha sat out the 2-0 home Premier League defeat to Southampton just before the international break, but has now returned to training, along with defender James Tomknis.

And Eagles manager Roy Hodgson is delighted to potentially have two further options for the trip to the Terriers, with Palace having lost their last three league games.

He told reporters: "It was his (Zaha'l s) first training session today; it was debatable as to whether he should train or not but he was anxious to try, it was the same with James, so it was really good to see them back out with us again.

"We'll have to wait and see how they react to tomorrow's training session to see if they will be available.

"If we listen to our medical department, both are coming back as early, if not earlier, than should have been expected."

Meanwhile, Hodgson also confirmed that summer recruits Max Meyer and Cheikhou Kouyate are pushing hard for starting spots, having only appeared as substitutes in the league so far this season.

He added: "We're very happy with them. Both Max and Cheik would be ready to start now in my opinion.

"Positions are contested now and if you want to keep your place you have to perform."

Palace are available at 13/8 to keep a clean sheet on Saturday and are 7/5 to win the game at the John Smith's Stadium, with a 1-1 draw priced at 11/2.

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Hodgson searches for Zaha answers

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson accepts that he must find a way to help his side perform to their best when star forward Wilfried Zaha is absent.

Ivory Coast international Zaha was missing on Saturday due to a groin strain and the Eagles were unable to cope as they were beaten 2-0 at home by Southampton.

The loss extended a run without a win when Zaha is sidelined which dates back to a 3-2 victory over Sunderland at Selhurst Park almost two years ago.

And it is that fact which has left Hodgson with much to ponder heading into the international break.

He told reporters after a disappointing afternoon for the Selhurst Park faithful: "I don't quite know what I can do about it until such time as we play a game without Wilf and win.

"It's a fact. Again he didn't play and again we didn't win. It's a pure fact that we have to learn to live with.

"There will be games where Wilf doesn't play and I would like to think that the squad that we have is good enough to win without him.

"It's a stretch to say because Wilf is unable to play, the other players can't produce what they are capable of."

The Eagles have now lost three Premier League games in a row following an opening weekend 2-0 triumph at newly-promoted Fulham, with the reverse to the Saints preceded by defeats to Liverpool and Watford.

Palace are now priced at 7/1 to be relegated this season, with Fulham available at 5/1 and West Ham 9/4.

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Puncheon close to Palace exit

Roy Hodgson has indicated that he is happy to let Jason Puncheon leave Crystal Palace on loan this week.

Middlesbrough have been linked with the 32-year-old, who has featured in 148 Premier League games for the Eagles since moving to Selhurst Park, initially on loan, from Southampton five years ago.

Hodgson said after his team's 1-0 victory at Swansea City in the second round of the Carabao Cup: "He wants to play more and I have made it clear to him I cannot guarantee that.

"In the middle of the park is where we are, at the moment, very competitive. But you saw that he is still a very good player, and I thought he was important to us in our victory."

Hodgson was pleased with his side's display at the Liberty Stadium, adding: "I'm happy. I thought that was a good game.

"It was a difficult one for us because we've got a couple of injuries, so that meant we were going to be limited [in selection] anyway and I wanted certain players who are either on the fringes of the first team or haven't got much of a game yet to get a game.

"Some of our better-known players weren't here but there were enough good players to make it a proper game for them."

Palace are 40/1 to win the Carabao Cup this season and 19/20 to beat Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.

Hodgson explains Tomkins’ absence

Roy Hodgson has revealed that a calf injury forced James Tomkins to withdraw from the Crystal Palace line-up just before Sunday's match against Watford kicked off.

Martin Kelly started instead of the former West Ham United defender alongside Mamadou Sakho.

All the goals arrived in the second half at Vicarage Road, with Roberto Pereyra and Jose Holebas scoring for the Hornets, who have now won their first three matches of the campaign, before Wilfried Zaha halved the deficit.

Hodgson said after the match: "He [Tomkins] felt his calf. He said he'd felt a slight tightness in training during the week but he didn't think it was important.

"He thought he could play through it without any problems, but when we went to the warm-up, he realised it was probably a bit more serious than he imagined.

"Now we have to have a scan and wait and see what the result of that is. Obviously there is some sort of strain there, the question is how big of one.

"We'll know how long in the early part of the week when he has his scan, so we'll wait and see on that one."

Palace are 19/20 to win their next game against Southampton on Saturday while Hodgson's team are 13/10 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table this season.

Gracia praises players’ belief

Watford boss Javi Gracia said their third win on the bounce was just reward for the players' hard work and belief.

The Hornets maintained their perfect start to the new Premier League season with a 2-1 home win over Crystal Palace and they join Liverpool at the top of the table with a maximum nine points from three games.

Roberto Pereyra scored his third goal of the season, opening the scoring early in the second half with a curling effort and Jose Holebas doubled their lead with 20 minutes remaining.

Watford keeper Ben Foster was kept busy at the other end and Roy Hodgson's team did get back into the game, Wilfried Zaha pulling a goal back on 78 minutes.

However, they couldn't find the equaliser and Watford boss Gracia was happy to reflect on a perfect start to the new season from his team.

He said afterwards: "I'm very happy because it is always difficult to get a result in the Premier League. We have three wins and it is amazing. The players have been rewarded because they have worked very hard.

"They believe we can do things. At this moment we have played really well the last few games but we know it is very early and only three steps.

"I feel the same as I felt from the first day – I'm very proud to be Watford coach."

Watford victories so far have come against Brighton, Burnley and now Palace. The next two league fixtures are, on paper, somewhat tougher with a home game against Tottenham followed by Manchester United after the international break.

The Hornets are 4/1 to beat Spurs with Mauricio Pochettino's side 8/13 and the draw 3/1.

Their next fixture though is in midweek in the second round of the EFL Cup when they play away at Championship side Reading.

Watford are 50/1 to win the trophy this season.

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Hodgson hopes to keep squad intact

Roy Hodgson said that he is reluctant to let any Crystal Palace players leave on loan in the coming week.

Though the summer transfer window closed early for Premier League clubs, clubs in the Championship as well as Leagues One and Two have another week in which to sign players on loan.

Many of those will be on the books of clubs in the top flight but Eagles boss Hodgson said his squad wasn't big enough to cope with any departures.

Palace play away to Watford on Sunday and at a press conference ahead of the game, Hodgson said: "We don't have that many players and if we let go of those players we might struggle to get a team out.

"We have got a small squad here. We have added three and lost five from last season so I am not anxious to loan players.

"We are going to have to look at the situation and ask can we afford to let this player to go? Much as they might not be first choice and they would relish to get more regular game time they are contracted to us."

Palace are 2/1 to win at Watford on Sunday with the Hornets 8/5 and the draw 9/4.

Christian Benteke has failed to score for Palace so far this season and has only been on the mark twice for the club so far this year. Hodgson though backed his striker, adding: "There is nothing we can do to help other than show our confidence in him and hope that the break will come for him one day and it will lead to a flood of goals."

Benteke is 9/4 to score against Watford.

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