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First Team

Kelly explains return to right-back position

6 December 2019

Speaking with Premier League Productions this week, Martin Kelly discussed his recently enforced switch from centre-back to right-back, a position he has occupied at various points in his career.

With Palace playing on the back of two wins in which they kept two clean sheets with Kelly at the right of defence, the 29-year-old explained how he and the team have felt in recent matches.

He commented on the versatility of the Eagles’ squad, saying: “I’ve been happy to help the team with the wins. It’s been good for me to come in - I think it’s been a couple of seasons since I played fullback. Fitness-wise you always feel like it’s a change from centre-back but you’ve got to be fit enough to play wherever. 

“I feel like at our training ground under our manager with the right people around us, you can get asked to play wherever and as long as you have the right attitude, you can perform the way you want to.”

Kelly’s experience at right-back stems early into his career, but the No.34 gained particularly valuable time in the role whilst under current manager Roy Hodgson at Liverpool and even England.

“When Roy was at Liverpool I played a lot of Europa League games at fullback,” Kelly explained. 

“I was asked to go to that squad [England] after Gary [Cahill] got injured and I played my only game for England. Roy’s put me there before. He knows with his team we have a way of playing and I feel comfortable to go out, work my socks off and bring my attributes to the table. Hopefully going forward that helps our team win more games.”

Despite his displays in recent victories, Kelly’s move hasn’t been a tactical inspiration. Instead, Hodgson’s hand was forced when traditional right-back Joel Ward had to leave the pitch against Liverpool.

Now, the Eagles appear to be suffering from more than just one defensive injury, with Scott Dann, Gary Cahill and Patrick van Aanholt also having missed minutes of late.

For Kelly, the club have to ride the wave with any injuries and the Palace man sees his teammates as more than capable of performing in positions they may not have a wealth of experience in.

He said: “I think we’ve got enough depth in our squad for when injuries come. People can step up. I think our training is right on-point in terms of keeping everyone as fit as possible for when their chance comes. Teams go through this, especially at this period where they get injuries. 

“You’ve got to remain focused, have the belief in the players who come in and we’re blessed with such a good bunch of lads that are always positive and happy to get on with their job and their role in the team. Injuries come, that’s part of football. The lads who do come in have just got to step up and produce.”

You can watch the full interview with Kelly by heading to Palace TV now. He talks through recent matches, his teammates in defence and more. To watch, either click here or ‘Palace TV’ in the official app.

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