Roy Hodgson promises ‘very strong’ consequences for any further Covid breach

George Sessions, PA
·3-min read

Roy Hodgson has made it clear to Crystal Palace’s players no further breaches of Government guidelines will be accepted.

Captain Luka Milivojevic issued an apology on Wednesday after he broke coronavirus rules on New Year’s Eve when his household mixed with Fulham forward Aleksandar Mitrovic and his family.

The Serbian made a substantial donation to the NHS after he conceded he “let the fans, the club, my manager and team-mates down”.

Milivojevic started the win over Sheffield United last Saturday, with news of his breach only becoming apparent to management staff on the morning of the game, but further lapses will be punished more strongly.

“The consequence would be harsher, there is no doubt about that,” Hodgson said ahead of Friday’s trip to Wolves in the FA Cup third round.

“We have had one player who has broken the rules and been punished accordingly, but the players have had it made very clear to them in the future there is to be no breaking of any Government guidelines.

“And anybody who does will face the consequences, and the consequences will be very strong ones and ones the players don’t want to suffer.

“Let’s hope that message has got home loud and clear and not only at our club, but clubs up and down the country.”

Milivojevic was one of several top-flight footballers to break tier four rules during the festive period but Hodgson now views the matter as closed.

He added: “I think as a club in general we have done pretty well during this Covid-19 period.

“We have conducted ourselves well, done a lot in the community and have shown a lot of responsibility, but Luka made a grave mistake.

“He has taken responsibility for it, put out a statement which I think covers things quite well and he has made a substantial contribution to the NHS which we were pleased he suggested he wanted to do.”

Palace could be without their captain at Molineux due to a back spasm while Jeffrey Schlupp is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Hodgson confirmed he will make changes and it could result in Michy Batshuayi being given a chance from the off, with the Chelsea loanee yet to get off the mark in his second spell with the club.

“I haven’t lost any confidence in Michy Batshuayi at all, he is still the player he was,” the 73-year-old insisted.

“I suppose to some extent the fact Christian Benteke has got a chance and taken it so well and we decided to play Wilf (Zaha) in a forward position as well has worked against him.

“It doesn’t mean I have lost any faith or belief that he will still be a very important player for us and at the end of the season, if we have achieved our goal, I am pretty certain he will be up there with the rest of the players receiving plaudits.”

Given Hodgson will rotate his squad, Max Meyer could get a rare outing with the German’s only showing this season in the League Cup at Bournemouth in September.

The ex-Schalke playmaker has six months left on his contract and would be allowed to leave if the right offer was forthcoming.

“Max has been the perfect professional, done all his work and hardly missed a day of training,” Hodgson said.

“He wants to play and needs to play. It is pretty obvious at the moment with the competition for places we have got here and the players I have been using, he has been marginalised.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Max is knocking on the door to move on and if that is the case, I might have to reluctantly agree he has not been given the chances here to show what he could do, so if there is someone else that would give him that it would have to be considered.”