Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace side could soon include a key defender, as Scott Dann’s training intensifies. The Eagles are limping their way through the opening weeks of the Premier League season with two wins from eight.
Selhurst Park regular Dann has been unavailable for the ex-England manager to call on in place of either James Tomkins or Mamadou Sakho due to the Liverpudlian’s cruciate ligament rupture sustained at the end of 2017.
Nearly a year out has taken its toll on the centre-back, who returned to training at the club’s facilities midway through September.
Dann had travelled with his teammates for the club’s pre-season tour of Scandinavia but trained separately from the rest in Sweden.
The injury picked up in the New Year’s Eve draw with Manchester City has seen the defender out for more than 280 days, but he is expected to be available again come October 31.
Premier Injuries predict the Halloween date as Dann’s competitive comeback, listing the player currently at a 25% chance of playing.
In a bid to build fitness, the defender joined Connor Wickham in featuring in Palace’s 5-0 charity friendly win over Dulwich Hamlet. Dann rarely held back from committing to a tackle when questioned but was hardly tested in an early display of his fitness.
Another player available on the roster should give the 71-year-old manager a squint of joy, with a limited number of options currently on offer.
Mamadou Sakho and James Tomkins have so far been the centre-back pairing of choice for the experienced coach, but there isn’t much depth below them.
Cheikhou Kouyaté and Martin Kelly are the potential stand-ins whilst Dann continues to be absent, but the Senegalese international is better suited to the midfield game.
As for Kelly, the ex-Liverpool defender holds less in his locker than the injured Dann, putting his place as a starter or even a substitute on the line once the crocked centre-half returns to action.