Patrick Vieira will be looking for his first victory as Crystal Palace manager when his side take on Watford in the Carabao Cup this evening.
The Eagles bounced back from an opening-day defeat at the hands of Chelsea with a goalless draw against Brentford over the weekend, and they’ll be hoping to build on that with another positive result at Vicarage Road.
Vieira awarded Palace debuts to summer signings Conor Gallagher and Joachim Andersen last time out but the French tactician is expected to ring the changes once again for this midweek encounter.
However, one player who won’t be available is club captain Luka Milivojevic. The Serbia international is yet to make an appearance this season and was ruled out of the Brentford clash due to personal reasons.
“Luka is not gonna be available. He had his personal reason,” Vieira revealed in Friday’s press conference.
Milivojevic has not yet returned to the first-team setup in south London, and therefore, is set for an extended time away from the pitch.
The likes of Martin Kelly, James Tomkins, Jack Butland and Jean-Philippe Mateta will all be hopeful of receiving a rare chance to impress from the off, though, as Vieira looks to award some fringe players valuable game time.
He made his intentions to field a strong starting XI against Watford clear following their draw on Saturday, meaning the youth players may have to remain patient for a chance in the first team.
“The young players need to have a chance obviously, but they need to earn it as well. I will use this cup game to build on the confidence. If (on Sunday) and Monday morning, every player is available it will be for me to pick the strongest team because we want to compete in this competition,” Vieira declared.
Although securing a place in the third round of the Carabao Cup may not be very high up on Vieira’s priority list for the 2021/22 campaign, the former Nice boss will still be gutted to be without talismanic midfielder Milivojevic.
The 30-year-old has played a crucial part in the capital club’s success in recent years, and his continued absence will undoubtedly have a negative impact upon Palace and their ambitions to progress in the competition.