Continuing our weekly feature From The Stands, fan blogger Simon Mills previews the international break.
So here we are, yet another international break. They seem to come around every five minutes at the moment, although based on our results beforehand, maybe we should have one every fortnight!
After our draw with Manchester United at Selhurst Park, the belief was there that we could continue the run and our recent record against Liverpool – providing we put in an equally explosive performance, and that we did. “You must be sick of us!” was the cry from our wonderful support and no doubt the Scousers will be by now, as we claimed a third win in five league outings against the former champions of Europe.
Yannick Bolasie continued his recent resurgence of form with a screamer of a finish, followed by a late winner by former Liverpool season ticket holder Scott Dann.
Dann, who has been absolutely exceptional for the past 20 months, has been a major factor in taking a team from the wrong end of the table to an established Premier League outfit in such short time, although he continues to be overlooked by England. This, combined with the inclusion of Phil Jones who has only made a handful of appearances this season, is completely bemusing to me.
If we can maintain our recent form and remain in the top eight or so, then surely it will become difficult for Roy Hodgson to ignore our stars… you would think. The recent performances from Wilfried Zaha would certainly put him into deserved contention; he was utterly unplayable at Liverpool. I feel he just needs to put those kind of performances in a little more consistently to truly force his way in.
When it comes to Palace’s talent other international managers have been far more accommodating as no less than 10 players will be on duty for their countries this week. I would like to wish Mile Jedinak, Lee Chung-Yong, Pape Souare, Yannick Bolasie, Yohan Cabaye, Adrian Mariappa, Bakary Sako, Johnny Williams, Joe Ledley and Wayne Hennessey all the very best in their upcoming games.
The last name in that list is no stranger to playing for his country, having earned 53 senior caps for Wales – a team which was until recently ranked eighth in the world, above England. It is a sign of the ability Hennessey has that he continued to be Welsh number one even when he found himself behind Julian Speroni at Selhurst.
It should come as little surprise that Wayne once again put in a terrific shift at Anfield to help us on our way to another fine result. As much as England’s selection baffles me, so does some of our supporters who were questioning if he should be selected after a couple of poor results (and overall team performances) – this despite having kept our only clean sheets of the season thus far.
Indeed, it seems Wales have done us a favour, persisting with Wayne while he wasn’t featuring for us. Not only could he have lost faith in his time with the club and looked for challenges further afield, but playing at such a high level would have kept him sharp and this would have benefited us when he got his chance.
Therefore, as much as an international break brings tears to the eyes of many of us, it certainly is useful. It gives some of our players the perfect opportunity to sharpen up and perhaps force their way into the manager's thinking for the first 11. The likes of Jedinak, Mariappa, Lee and Ledley are all players who should be chomping at the bit to earn themselves a place in the Palace team and these games will give them the chance to do just what Hennessey has already achieved.
It is a mark of how far we have come to have so many regular international among the squad as a whole. Of course, regardless of this, Palace fans will simply be praying that our next visit to Selhurst comes around quickly… and without injury!
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