Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has explained that Tyrick Mitchell’s absence is due to a strength in depth in the squad.
Mitchell has been left as an unused substitute on the bench once since he recovered from injury, whilst he was not even included in the squad for the past two games, despite the fact he started the first six fixtures in the Premier League this season.
Patrick van Aanholt – who has been linked with a Selhurst Park exit – has replaced the academy product in the starting line-up in recent weeks, with the Palace boss insisting he sees no point in naming the 21-year-old on the bench.
“It’s a reflection of the strength in depth,” Hodgson said. “He’s been doing extremely well. We’re really, really happy with him but there is some enormous competition.
“The thing is, he was in the team, he was our left-back, but he got injured. That meant that Patrick van Aanholt, who had been sitting on the bench and covering him, got back in the team and he’s done well enough to keep that shirt.
“Now it’s up to Tyrick to force his way back in again, but he’s been doing very well. The problem with full-backs is that you’re not first choice to be on the bench.
“That’s the problem, because you need the positions on the bench to give you tactical changes. The full-backs don’t often do that – the full-back on the bench will more often be cover rather than of any tactical use to you.”
Hodgson’s latest baffling admission about Mitchell arguably poses more questions than answers ahead of the Premier League clash with London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park on Sunday afternoon.
With Van Aanholt’s contract coming to an end next summer, there is of course a genuine concern about what the future holds for the club’s long-standing servant, but the manager must try and put his loyalties aside as he cannot allow nostalgia to cloud his judgement.
Mitchell’s contract will also run out in 2021, and the only way the Palace boss will be able to truly convince him that his future lies at Selhurst Park is by giving him the time to shine and get some more minutes under his belt.
It’s all very well and good coming out and praising the player in a press conference, but it’s another to give him game time against significant opponents like Jose Mourinho’s side.
Against Spurs, Mitchell will have a real opportunity to send Hodgson a timely reminder of his obvious talents. In six appearances in the Premier League this season, the youngster is averaging 4 tackles and 2.3 clearances per game, via WhoScored.
With Van Aanholt’s time at the club seemingly all but over after contract talks with his representatives reached an impasse, the young left-back hailed as a “silent assassin” surely deserves the chance to play against Spurs and potentially stop the high-flying north London side in their tracks.