Roy Hodgson has spoken in his weekly press conference today about the progression and recovery of Connor Wickham, who featured against Dulwich Hamlet while returning from a lengthy series of injuries.
The manager stated that, “If Connor can stay fit and regain his Premier League intensity, and he’s working towards that all the time and getting closer and closer, of course he’ll be a tremendous bonus for us because he’s a player that up to now in my career at Crystal Palace I’ve not been able to use or rely on at all.
“Connor is there, he’s trained all week. He’s, for the last month, been training and not missed any sessions which is very, very positive so I’m sure if you asked him, he’d say ‘yes, I am ready to play and I should be starting.’”
Whether the forward will be available to play on Sunday depends upon the fitness of other players, however, and Hodgson made it clear that he would rather Wickham had more time to recover.
“A lot will depend upon tomorrow, it will depend on the options. There’s already at least three players from the squad ruled out, four really because Pape Souaré has only just come back from an injury and trained today. With that many players out, then obviously it will depend a little bit on Alexander [Sørloth] and Max [Meyer] and Wilf [Zaha] and how they’ve come through tomorrow’s session.
“It could well be that we’ll need to turn to Connor. He feels he’s ready if we need to turn to him and I’m not afraid to turn to him. But in an ideal world we’d have preferred to have given him one or two more Under-23 matches, one or two more matches perhaps even in the League Cup [...] before really throwing him in at the deep end.
“Sometimes you don’t have that choice as a coach, you don’t monitor things in that way. There is no logical sequence that you can always follow because the game isn’t logical, it throws up things all the time that you weren’t expecting.”