Hodgson refuses to ‘underestimate’ Crystal Palace as they attempt to follow in Aston Villa’s footsteps

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson Credit: Alamy
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson Credit: Alamy

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson refused to rule out his side’s chances of one day qualifying for Europe like Saturday’s foes Aston Villa.

The Eagles currently sit seventh in the Premier League as they have started the new campaign with two wins, a draw and a loss.

Last month, Aston Villa kickstarted their first European campaign in 13 years as they won both legs of their Europa Conference League play-off against Scottish outfit Hibernian to reach the group stage.

Hodgson predicted Palace could have a chance of cracking the continent themselves in the future.

“Leicester City, who are now actually in the Championship, won the Premier League,” Hodgson said. “I remember. It’s not that long ago. I was actually at the game, I was there.

“Anybody who ever says this is not a chance or not a possibility for us is underestimating what can happen.

“We just have to keep working and trying as hard as we can to improve our squad, to improve our team, to improve our play and to see how far that brings us up the table.

“I certainly don’t write off the chance of Crystal Palace at some stage getting into European competitions because teams like Brighton, and the way Brentford have done the last few years have shown us the way.”

Centre-back Marc Guehi, who was handed two starts for Gareth Southgate’s side during the international break, is set to miss the trip to Villa Park after jarring his hip in the first half of England’s 3-1 victory against Scotland.

Hodgson said: “It’s a problem that we think can be easily managed, or he isn’t unduly worried about, but the game has come too soon unfortunately. Had we had 10 days, or even four or five, we might have got him fit, but I’m afraid the day’s training he’s done today wasn’t enough time.

“It’s not something that’s occurred because he’s trained and played two matches with England. It’s because, in the game against Scotland, he jarred his hip and that has unfortunately exacerbated this minor problem he plays with every week.”

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Former Arsenal defender Rob Holding, who signed with the Eagles on deadline day, is among Hodgson’s options to fill in for Guehi and would make his Palace debut if awarded minutes.

Summer signing Jefferson Lerma, who returned from international duty with Colombia late Thursday morning, will also miss out after sustaining a hamstring issue.

The midfielder underwent a scan on Friday morning, while Hodgson would not put a time-frame on the return of Michael Olise, who tore his hamstring while playing for France at the European Under-21 Championship in June.

Hodgson was quick to praise Villa boss Unai Emery, who he feels may have earned an unfair reputation after his short spell in charge of Arsenal.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned, Emery has always been a good coach. Wherever he’s gone, he’s done an excellent job.

“He came to Arsenal after Arsene Wenger and it was decided, by the club and possibly by public opinion that ‘oh, this guy might be good at doing things and winning things abroad but he’s no good here in England’.

“I never shared that opinion. I’ve thought all along that I wonder if Arsenal will be regretting at one stage that they’ve let him go so early.

“They’ve started this season well and strengthened their team with two or three really, really important signings.

“Like so many other Premiership teams we meet, they are not only to be respected, but feared because of what they’re capable of doing.”

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