Roy Hodgson prepares his side for their second game in three days as they face Manchester City on Sunday lunchtime with the congested fixture programme meaning his team selection options could be limited.
The day after defeat against Arsenal on Thursday evening the squad reported back to the Copers Cope Training Ground but time had to be spent by the Palace boss monitoring his player's fitness as the congested fixture programme could start to take its toll.
“We have had the period between the Swansea game and the Arsenal match for some players to recover and thankfully they did but when I am sure after going into a light training session on Saturday there will be several of the squad that will be doubtful because of knocks they have been carrying and could be sufficient to keep them out of the Manchester City game. We also have a number of players who are feeling an element of fatigue and that is not going to be helped by playing Southampton so soon after on Tuesday.
“We have been unlucky this year playing Sunday and then again on the following Tuesday and that is a tough ask for any team but for a club like ours, where the squad is not enormous, it means we don’t have the level of experience on the bench or depth that some teams have so to be able to get a team playing two games in two days is going to stretch us to the limit."
Hodgson’s third game in charge when he took over as manager was a trip to the Etihad Stadium and a well organised Palace side held out until a minute before half time but then City took control and ran out 5-0 winners.
That day was not out of the ordinary for Pep Guardiola’s side as they have been lethal in front of goal having scored 61 this term and the Palace boss is the first to admit that the quality his side will come up against will make it a tough final day of the year for his players.
“They score goals against a number of teams not particularly those directly around them in the League or the teams that set up not to allow them to score but any that go up against them and attack when they have the ball or defend when they haven’t runs the risk of conceding goals because they are doing it to everybody. We believe the players we have are best suited to playing the way we are trying to play so we won’t have much option other to try and do against them what we tried to do against Arsenal this week, which might make it an entertaining game for the neutral but it could make it a tough game for us because they have such quality in the middle and final thirds of the field and they work so hard to win the ball back. We are going to face another task like we did on Thursday evening and all I can hope is that we give it at least as good a go as we did in that game."
The match will be played in front of second sell-out crowd of the week at Selhurst and Hodgson believes that the home fans will be in no doubt as to how tough the games against top six clubs will always be but at the same time assures them that his players will go out wanting to show a level of performance to make them proud as another Palace year comes to a close.
“Hopefully our fans didn’t go away too unhappy following the Arsenal game even though the result went against us but I think our fans are realistic and know our players are doing the very best they can. They will also know that when you come across teams like Arsenal or Manchester City, whether it is home or away, you have your work cut out because of the quality they have in their team so I hope they support us on Sunday in the same way as they always do and all I can promise them is that we will put out the very best team we can and those eleven that play will do their level best not to accept where both clubs sit in the league but that we are both Premier League teams and have pride in our performance and if they are going to beat us I know they will have to play as well as the Arsenal did in our previous home game.”