By Simon Mills
I know how you all feel, it’s another international break and with it an extra week without Palace… snore! Still, it has its benefits, it is a great time to take stock of where we are at and is an ideal opportunity for some of our players to get themselves back fit again.
We are certainly in far better shape than the last time we were forced to go without domestic action. Having come off the back of two defeats and a draw, things were not looking particularly wonderful back in September. However, that has all changed and what a brilliant thing it is to say that since then we are unbeaten!
The mood amongst the support is certainly a lot healthier and more comfortable now. There were lots of divided opinions last month and this generated a certain amount of ill feeling. As I mentioned back then, patience was in short supply, but proved to be greatly needed - as demonstrated by how much we have improved in such a short space of time.
Everything is coming together nicely; players have returned after extended summers, they are much fitter and with it sharper, everyone is working together well and confidence is up again – which usually proves to be the major influence on a team’s or individual’s performance. It is certainly a big plus ahead of our next game at home to West Ham, who are suffering from a real lack of confidence so far this season.
In the meantime, we wish all the best (and most importantly, no injuries!) for all our players out on international duty. Chung-yong Lee (South Korea), Steve Mandanda and Yohan Cabaye (France), Wayne Hennessey and Joe Ledley (Wales), Christian Benteke (Belgium), Bakary Sako (Mali) and James McArthur (Scotland) will all be in action over the next week.
There is of course one name missing from that list, a late addition to our international contingent for this round of internationals. Big congratulations to Andros Townsend on his recall to the England squad, following the withdrawal of Raheem Sterling earlier this week.
There is something a little more special about a Palace player getting the call for the Three Lions and that is no disrespect to our other representatives. The reality is, it seems much harder to get into that squad and again that is no disrespect intended to the other players or indeed their countries. Frankly, it shouldn’t be!
As brilliant as it is to see Andros get the call, I just pray that the inclusion of players like Michael Keane may be an indicator that there is indeed hope for players like Scott Dann, Wilfried Zaha and Jason Puncheon. However, given that he is a former under 21, who has recently been a regular for the manager and presumably the next name off that list, I won’t be holding my breath.
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