Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Nathaniel Clyne has suffered a fresh muscle injury which means he will play no part in Fulham’s visit to Selhurst Park, in what will be a colossal blow for Crystal Palace.
Clyne signed a contract extension keeping him at Palace until the end of the season. The 29-year-old returned to his boyhood club after arriving on a short-term deal in October.
However, his latest setback leaves the Eagles a little light on the right-hand side of the defence ahead of Fulham’s visit to Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Joel Ward has admirably filled in at right-back in his absence but barring a coronavirus outbreak, an injury crisis could cause problems.
Hodgson also provided an update on injured stars Jeffrey Schlupp and Connor Wickham, both of whom have been absent due to injury.
“Jeffrey Schlupp and Connor Wickham took part in the early part of training with the team, they’ve also been with the rehabilitation specialists for a long period of time, so they were at least with us for an early part of the session – but they didn’t join in with the more intensive part and I don’t think they’ll be asked to do more with us until at least next week.
“And unfortunately Nathaniel Clyne has picked up a slight muscle injury as well so I think he’ll be out of the game as well. So the injury list is not better, in fact, it’s one man worse.”
Clyne’s fresh setback will come as a colossal blow for the Palace boss, who faces a shortage of defensive options in his position, as new signing Nathan Ferguson is yet to make his first appearance for the south London club.
And, while Ward has been such a loyal servant to Palace over the years, it’s a hard task to ask the 31-year-old, who himself has suffered from a fair whack of injuries, to continue to be a consistent and reliable performer for the Eagles against a Fulham side with renewed confidence.
While Clyne has copped a fair amount of criticism at times during his second stint at the club, it’s fair to say that he has continued to defy the critics for Hodgson’s side, making some great overlapping runs and working well in tandem with Andros Townsend.
But with Ferguson still working his way back to fitness, both players have had to share the workload, which is exactly why Hodgson will be concerned about his growing injury crisis.
With the Fulham game coming too soon for Clyne, it will be up to Ward – a player who has made over 250 appearances for Palace – to shoulder the burden alone and step up in his absence.
With the pacy and tricky Ademola Lookman up against Ward, Hodgson will be concerned about Ward’s ability to live with the former Everton star, but he has no real choice but to select him and hope that his experience is enough to get him through the game.
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