Roy Hodgson gives Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze injury update ahead of Everton and makes relegation claim
Roy Hodgson is confident that Crystal Palace can avoid being dragged into a Premier League relegation battle.
The Eagles suffered a 3-1 loss to Chelsea at Selhurst Park, which leaves them five points above 18th-placed Everton. Palace led at half-time through Jefferson Lerma's fine long-range strike but Conor Gallagher equalised for the visitors after half-time before bagging the winner in stoppage-time. Enzo Fernandez then added a third to compound the Eagles to more misery.
Pressure is mounting on Hodgson, who was brought back to the Selhurst hot seat a year ago when he replaced Patrick Vieira and indeed avoided a dogfight at the bottom of the table last season. But Palace have won only twice in the league since the start of December.
The Croydon-based side next make the trip to Everton on Monday 19 February. The Toffees have won just once in their 11 league games themselves but did knock Palace out of the FA Cup third round last month.
And Hodgson insists that the Eagles have enough to turn around their foundering form. The Palace boss said: “It’s a bad period but it’s been caused by the injury situation,” he said. “It’s 14 games [left], a lot of matches and a lot of points and I think we’ve shown enough.
“So I don’t have any concerns, but there is no complacency and points are very necessary to get away from the relegation zone. This group of players are good enough and tonight gave me even more faith and belief.”
Palace have been hit by injury problems, with four key players missing the Chelsea game. Chief attacking duo Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze are sidelined, Marc Guehi has a knee issue and Cheick Doucoure is unlikely to play again this season because of an Achilles problem.
Hodgson admitted that the absence of Olise and Eze is nullifying the Eagles' attacking threat - and there's no date on when they may return to action.
He said via the BBC: "What can I say that will cheer the players up? I could possibly say, well, with the players we've got coming back and these guys doing so well, it bodes well for the future with the 14 games we have left.
"But, of course, we still don't know when Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze will be back, so we might be battling through like we've done tonight for a few more games before we can look at a team which will threaten the opposition a bit more than we did today."