Crystal Palace’s list of absentees for their trip to Manchester City next weekend is likely to be in double figures, after a seething Roy Hodgson revealed three fresh injuries after the 2-1 defeat by Liverpool.
Despite leading until the 76th minute at Selhurst Park on Saturday, 10-man Palace conceded twice to lose at home again, with the dismissed Jordan Ayew suspended for next weekend’s trip to the Etihad Stadium.
Palace are now winless since November 4 and have slumped to 15th place in the Premier League table.
“We cannot afford injuries”, said manager Hodgson, whose side already had six players out injured ahead of Saturday.
Hodgson said he “totally disagreed” with referee Andy Madley’s decision to send Ayew off for a second bookable offence, when the Ghana forward stopped a Liverpool counter-attack with a robust challenge on Harvey Elliott, who would go on to score a dramatic winner in stoppage time.
“I thought that up to the sending off, which I totally disagree with in every respect, I’m really disappointed that Virgil van Dijk should kick the ball against Jordan to get him the first yellow card”, said Hodgson.
“The second yellow card was a tackle. Whether it was a foul or not I wouldn’t want to swear to, but I didn’t think it was a yellow card.
“So to force us to play with 10 men for the last 15-plus minutes in a game which up to that point I thought we dealt with extremely well, was a really, really harsh outcome. Certainly not worthy of what the team had produced up to that point.”
Criticising Van Dijk while talking to TNT Sports, Hodgson said: "Van Dijk took the opportunity to get him [Ayew] the first yellow card by kicking the ball against him from a few yards away.
"That's very disappointing. I think if you are Liverpool Football Club, you don't need players of Van Dijk's quality and status in the game to try and get a player a yellow card by just kicking the ball against him."
Palace had a penalty award overturned in the first half when Madley was sent to the monitor by VAR John Brooks and decided that a foul by Will Hughes on Wataru Endo in the build-up meant the spot-kick - given for Van Dijk's challenge on Edouard - shouldn’t stand.
Brooks then told Madley to go to the monitor again in the second half, and the referee awarded a penalty for a foul by Jarell Quansah which he had not seen at first. Jean-Philippe Mateta was the player taken down, and he stepped up to give Palace the lead.
Hodgson said: “It’s two referees — which referee do you want to believe? The referee on the field who gave one and not the other, or the referee in VAR who didn’t give one and did give the other?
“You would not believe how disappointed and upset the players are. I can blame the referee, I can blame lots of things.
"But the bottom line is: a game where I thought after 75 minutes we were looking likely to win 1-0, we’ve lost 2-1."
A downbeat Hodgson lamented to TNT on his future: "We're talking too much about the referees. The fact is I'm afraid I've been in football a long time and games like today make me realise that when the day comes to leave it behind, I won't be missing anything."
Asked specifically about what he was most unhappy with in terms of the direction of modern football, Hodgson said: "The rules. Refereeing and the referee's incentives.
"I'm absolutely sick about the handball interpretations, I'm sick about these yellow cards for time-wasting, I'm sick about player behaviour.
"All through the game, we're trying to do our job. The coaches who set this game up unbelievably well are trying to get a bit of advice out and every time they step forward and get even close to me, the guy is screaming at them to sit down again. I'm sick of those."