Roy Hodgson was able to provide a positive update on Crystal Palace’s injury situation ahead of Wednesday’s fixture with Manchester United, but Wilfried Zaha is not expected to face his former club.
The Ivory Coast international has not played since he sustained a hamstring injury in the 2-1 win at Newcastle on February 2 although is back in training.
United’s trip to Selhurst Park will come too soon for Palace’s top goalscorer yet Hodgson will be boosted by Jeffrey Schlupp and Connor Wickham’s availability after long spells out with respective muscle injuries.
“He has returned to training albeit a little bit modified at the start of this week and he looks really ready to go again,” the Palace manager said of nine-goal hitman Zaha.
“We’ll have to wait for the green light I think from the medical staff but it is looking positive. I think I will be able to welcome him back into squad very soon.
“I am also pleased Jeff Schlupp and Connor Wickham have recovered from the long spells they have had on the sidelines and they are available for me as well, so it’s good news on the offensive front.
“We are looking much more like we should be now than we have in the last four to five weeks where all these guys have been injured.”
Pushed on Zaha’s return date, Hodgson was “optimistic” he would be able to feature in the weekend clash with Tottenham.
The Eagles remain without James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho and James McArthur for the foreseeable future while full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Tyrick Mitchell have knocks which will sideline them for this match.
Right-back Nathan Ferguson returned from his latest injury this week after enduring a difficult period in south London since he joined from West Brom in the summer.
Hodgson added: “It was his first day training with a squad on Monday but at the moment that squad will be the under-23s squad for a period of a couple of weeks.
“We don’t want to thrust him in after such a long time out with the intensity of first-team training just in case he does more damage to a muscle.
“We will give him two weeks for the under-23s to see how they will progress and we hope it will go well and we can welcome him back into the fold here.”
Palace have picked up four points from their last two games, but managed only three shots on target against Brighton and Fulham.
Second-placed United are far from the ideal opponents to help Palace improve on that tally and yet the Eagles have won two of the last three games with the Red Devils and could seal a first ever league double over them this week.
“We haven’t had enough shots at goal or created enough chances and we are aware of that but I am afraid that is something that happens in a football season,” Hodgson insisted.
“There was a moment when we were doing neither and also not defending well. At least we have put that side of things right.
“And I am pretty certain the other side of the game, which we care very much about, will become more evident as the players get back to fitness and on the field again.”
Ex-England boss Hodgson also welcomed news a joint bid from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland to host the 2030 World Cup has received support from the UK Government.
“With all the stadia we have, the fans and ability we have to welcome people to the country and house them, it has got the makings of a fantastic World Cup,” the 73-year-old added.
“I do hope the government can give as much support to it as is going to be needed to make certain that FIFA decide that we’re the country who deserve it.
“I hope I’m still alive and around to watch it, that’s even more important!”