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Five first-team players return to hand Palace boss Hodgson selection headache

(Image credit: Bradley Collyer)

Roy Hodgson faces an all too rare selection headache as the Crystal Palace manager welcomes back five first-team players for Friday’s trip to Wolves.

Both sides head into the Molineux encounter with 10 points to show from the opening six matches of the 2020/21 campaign, leaving the hosts ninth and the Eagles eighth in the Premier League standings.

Palace’s early-season success has been made all the more impressive by a swathe of absentees, but Hodgson says those issues are now beginning to lessen.

“James McCarthy’s back in training,” Hodgson said. “Gary Cahill is back, James Tomkins is back.

“It’s just the long-term injuries really to Wayne Hennessey and Connor Wickham. We’ve also of course got the injury to Joel Ward.

“We’ve not got to assess Tyrick Mitchell tomorrow before we travel because he picked up a knock in training yesterday.

“Jordan (Ayew) is fine and Jack Butland (after positive coronavirus tests).”

The returning players give Hodgson an “excess of riches” as a frantic period continues for Palace, who are just three points off early Premier League leaders Everton.

“I’d like to think there’s more to come because the competition is so strong now,” Hodgson said.

“For the first time, really, in a very long time – possibly even the first real time since I’ve been here – to have such a choice that one has to pick a team.

“It’s been quite often a case that the 11 or so that are fit have gone out and played every game.

“Now we’ve got a good competition for places and we’ve got some very, very good players who are not in the team at the moment who are anxious to get back into the team.

“So, I’m hoping that will keep the standard high and hopefully the team will be able to maintain its good start to the season.”

Hodgson’s abundance of options means he will have omit some big names from Palace’s matchday squad.

Jairo Riedewald has spent a fair amount of time stuck on the outside looking in since joining from Ajax in 2017 but has been a growing influence for the Eagles this season.

The 24-year-old scored his first goal for the club in last weekend’s 2-1 win at Fulham and Hodgson would not be surprised to see him rewarded with a recall to the Holland national team.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him selected because of the way he’s playing at the moment and the way his game has developed,” the Palace boss said.

“I think he’s worthy of an awful lot of praise, Jairo Riedewald, for having so long stuck at his task.

“In training he’s always worked hard and done the very best he can do so it’s our fault perhaps at times that we haven’t used him as much as we could have done.

“But I’d also like to think he’s taken on board a lot of the things we’ve asked of him and changes we’ve asked him to make in his game to make him the player we’ve got today. It’s certainly a joint effort.”