Ahead of Palace’s first pre-season game against Helsingør this evening, Roy Hodgson has said that he is looking forward to seeing his side tested out against their Danish hosts.
It has been 61 days since the Eagles took to the field in their Premier League finale against West Bromwich Albion, and after that lengthy period, like all of the club’s fans Hodgson is itching to see his squad back in action, with 25 players making the trip to Scandinavia.
As well as new signing Vicente Guaita, the Palace boss may call upon Jason Puncheon and Connor Wickham after lengthy injuries, loanees Jonny Williams, Ryan Inniss and Sullay Kaikai as well as youngsters Nya Kirby, Jason Lokilo and Jaroslaw Jach who have also travelled.
With plenty of options at his disposal, Hodgson’s main focus will be on his squad’s fitness and cohesion, saying: “I don’t quite know what to expect and I’m not that bothered about what they [Helsingør] do or can do.
“It’s really a question of getting our players to play some competitive football and getting some minutes behind them. When we go back to England we’ve only got three final warm-up games, so we’ll have least tested the waters and know what it’s like to put the shirt on and go out in a competitive game.
“I know the players will be highly motivated for the games; they’re working hard and they’ll do their best but I don’t want to put them under any more pressure than that. I shall be happy if we get through the two games, play well enough and the players feel they’re further ahead in their preparations than when we arrived.”
Palace will take to the field at the 5,500 capacity Helsingør Stadium against the Danish second-tier side at 5.30pm BST in a game that is being streamed live and free on Palace TV, before then travelling back to Sweden to face Halmstads on Monday 16th July.
While Eagles fans will be keen to see their heroes in red and blue again, Hodgson played down the importance of the final result. “The games are a little bit early in the season for us,” he added. “In an ideal world you might have had a couple of weeks of training under your belt before you play competitive games, but they are the right sort of games and they’ll test us out enormously.
“Helsingør are more of an unknown quantity to me than Halmstad because they weren’t in the Danish league when I worked there for a year. I know they’re a very small club with a small stadium and don’t get much of a crowd, so that’ll be very different to the stadia we’re used to playing in in England and what we’ll find when we got to Halmstad.”