Roy Hodgson says the return of his attacking players to full fitness will begin to ease the burden on his defence, as Jeffrey Schlupp and Connor Wickham are on the substitutes bench against Manchester United.
“It was a fantastic effort from the players over the last four or five games,” he said in his pre-match interview. “We’ve really missed some of our injured players and they are the ones in particular who provide our attacking threat.
“Without that of course our defence has had more to do than they would have liked, but they’ve done it brilliantly well – especially over the last two games.
“We’ve got Schlupp back on the bench tonight and hopefully Wilf [Zaha] back soon. We hope we won’t have [James] McArthur out for too long, and then hopefully things will start to look like they were a couple of months ago, which will be good for us all.”
Palace are seeking their first Premier League double over Man Utd, after winning the reverse fixture at Old Trafford – but Roy Hodgson was keen to emphasise the difficulty of the task.
“It would be something to write home about,” he said. “It’s an achievement because they are so good – they’re not second in the league for nothing. You don’t spend the money they have to accumulate some really good players and find yourself with a bad team.
“We’ve always been really competitive against them. Even in the couple of games we’ve lost at home, I’ve always thought that a result was a possibility for us. Away from home we had the good fortune from our counter-attacking opportunities.
“They’ve improved of course. They’ve added Cavani, and the young players like Greenwood are getting better with every game that goes by. So we have to get out there and try and reproduce the shape of the team: the effort, the discipline.
“We have to hope a few things break for us.”