Crystal Palace boss admits he has tough call to make ahead of Manchester City clash

BY SAM SMITH

Roy Hodgson has a goalkeeping selection dilemma as he prepares his Crystal Palace side to visit Manchester City.

Summer signing Vicente Guaita made his Premier League debut in last weekend’s 1-0 victory against Leicester City. The Spaniard impressed in place of the injured first-choice stopper Wayne Hennessey, making one spectacular save to deny Jamie Vardy late on to secure just a second victory in 12 games.

Hennessey has been excellent this season – winning the club’s November Player of the Month award – but missed the fixture due to a recurrence of a back problem. He said on his Instagram page that he would return to training on Monday, suggesting he will be fit for the trip to the Etihad Stadium.

After the victory on Saturday, Hodgson said: “I was really pleased with him [Guaita]. I’m happy at this moment in time that I don’t have to make that decision [of who to start against Man City]. I might have to at some stage in the week.”

Hodgson has far less pressing issues further up the pitch with key players James Tomkins and Wilfried Zaha returning from suspension.The pair were banned as Luka Milivojevic’s solitary goal saw off the Foxes at Selhurst Park. The pair had both received their fifth bookings of the season in the previous weekend’s defeat to West Ham United.

Palace have not registered a Premier League goal at the Etihad since promotion in 2013 and will once again rely on the makeshift striking pair of Zaha and Andros Townsend to break that record.

Christian Benteke remains absent until mid-January with a knee injury.
Centre-back Tomkins will be expected to come straight back into the side to partner Mamadou Sakho, replacing Martin Kelly.

Manchester City defeated Leicester on penalties to progress to the EFL Cup semi-final on Tuesday and boss Pep Guardiola will be buoyed by the return to fitness of Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne.

The latter struck a wonderful opener at the King Power Stadium before being withdrawn after 70 minutes. Aguero may struggle to displace Gabriel Jesus after the Brazilian’s brace helped defeat Everton last Saturday.

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