The Eagles manager talks about how he is excited to be able to count on the Ghana star for the remainder of the season
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson believes the return of Ghana midfielder Jeffrey Schlupp and Cote d’Ivoire attacker Wilfried Zaha is a massive boost for their Premier League ambitions.
The two players are gradually warming themselves back into full match fitness after spending some time in the treatment room.
Palace are currently 12th on the league table as the championship returns with matchday 30 action after the international break.
“We’ll be aided by the fact that Wilfried Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp – two of our main attacking players who have the ability to do things the opposition don’t expect – will be with us for these last nine games,” Hodgson said at a pre-match press conference on Thursday ahead of Monday’s Premier League meeting with Everton.
“I’m hoping that we will keep players fit in these last nine games because that was a massive problem for us in the start-up period at the end of last season, when there were an awful lot of games to be played.
“We’ll keep cracking on and try and get as many points as we can and try and finish as high up as we can.”
While Schlupp did not join Ghana for the international break, Zaha travelled to link up with the Cote d’Ivoire squad for their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against Niger and Ethiopia.
Like Zaha, Schlupp’s compatriot Jordan Ayew linked up with the Ghana squad for back-to-back games against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe, scoring against the latter.
“The players who played internationals all seem to be OK,” Hodgson said on his international contingent.
“There’s only one we haven’t yet seen but we believe he’s fine, and that’s Cheikhou Kouyate [of Senegal]. He had a longer journey than the others.
“I think the only player we’re likely to get back is Tyrick Mitchell, although we’re still assessing James McCarthy and Nathaniel Clyne.”
Schlupp has made 18 league appearances for Palace so far this season, starting in 12 of the matches.
In those outings, the 28-year-old found the back of the net in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in December and a 2-0 victory over Sheffield United in January.