LONDON (Reuters) - Crystal Palace will begin their Premier League campaign against Southampton with eight first-team players unavailable, dismayed manager Roy Hodgson said on Friday.
Striker Christian Benteke is out injured, as are five defenders, according to Hodgson who will decide whether new attacking signing Eberechi Eze can feature on Saturday.
"At the moment we're very handicapped -- to have as many as eight players unavailable for this fixture is not a good situation," Hodgson told a news conference.
"These are household names, and we're a little dismayed about it. Five of our regular defenders are missing, and two of the front players as well."
Eze, signed from Queen's Park Rangers last month, lit up the Championship last season but suffered a groin injury during a pre-season game and has only just returned to training.
Asked if the 22-year-old can make an instant impact in the top flight, Hodgson said patience might be required.
"It's not difficult if you have the ability and I have no fear about that," Hodgson said. "Becoming as big a star in the Premier League as he was in the Championship might take a while.
"We're convinced we've signed the right player. It's been nice to have him this week and let him show the other players what a talented player he is."
Hodgson's attacking options will be boosted by Michy Batshuayi after the Belgian international rejoined the club on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
"Very pleased to sign Batshuayi. Michy is a player we've admired for a long time," Hodgson said.
Palace are without Patrick van Aanholt (shoulder), Mamadou Sakho (thigh), James Tomkins (thigh) and Gary Cahill (thigh).
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)