Last season, if someone had said that Mamadou Sakho or James Tomkins would face a battle to get into Roy Hodgson’s starting XI, most Crystal Palace fans would have presumably given them a funny look – the pair helped contribute to what was the 6th best defence in the Premier League last term.
However, that is the reality we now find ourselves in.
In Tomkins’ case, the former West Ham man has been out of action since the 1-0 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park last season after picking up an injury that required surgery, and is yet to play a single minute of first-team football this term.
With Sakho, the France international has made three Premier League appearances in the current campaign, but is injured once again – the pair’s absence has allowed Martin Kelly and Gary Cahill to form a formidable partnership.
Some Palace fans on Twitter sung the duo’s praises after the 2-0 win over Norwich, while both Cahill and Kelly have contributed heavily to an impressive run of form recently, which has seen the Eagles sit 6th.
So, will Sakho or Tomkins be able to dislodge the impressive pair of England internationals?
We asked Football FanCast’s writers what they think…
“I think it would be extremely harsh on Cahill and Kelly if Roy Hodgson chooses to bring Tomkins and Sakho straight back in upon their return to full fitness. The England pair have worked well together and there is simply no reason for anything to change right now. The Eagles have conceded just one goal per game in the league this term on average, and Kelly in particular has been performing at a fantastic level – he also grabbed the assist for Jordan Ayew’s late winner over West Ham. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it – that much is especially true of the current centre-back partnership at Selhurst Park.”
Whatever Roy Hodgson has been doing at Selhurst Park this season, their league position proves he’s getting it spot on with both his tactics and team selection. Cahill and Kelly have marshalled the defence superbly, helping the Eagles concede just eight goals in the Premier League – only three other sides have let in less.
“Therefore, why on earth would Palace consider making unnecessary changes now? Sakho and Tomkins will simply have to wait patiently on the side-lines until this roller-coaster ride that Palace are on comes to an end.”