BY ROB SUTHERLAND
Roy Hodgson has spoken of the pride he has in his Crystal Palace players, praising the character and professionalism of his players following the 2-1 win over West Ham on Saturday.
The Eagles chief says that adding Gary Cahill into the mix has brought a winning mentality to the side.
“We’ve got a lot of good influences around the training ground,” says Hodgson.
“The one thing about the group of players we work with – you can criticise this or that, like them for this or that – you couldn’t criticise their attitude and desire. Their efforts. Their attempts to carry out gameplans, work for each other and as a team. That’s something I’m proud of.”
Hodgson says that, while a player like Cahill can help to improve ailing teams and bring players into line, that wasn’t a necessity at Palace.
“We know that we don’t have any problems on the training field with people coming out there needing a Gary Cahill to whip them into shape.
“They’re already in shape. But of course having said that, it’s very good to have people like Cahill around with his experience and ability, his professionalism.”
The Palace manager also reserved some additional praise for James McArthur, who he thinks could have played a role at a bigger club than Palace, following an impressive performance in a holding role usually taken up by the suspended Luka Milivojevic.
“Maybe some of our other players might have been successful had they been playing at Chelsea,” he says.
“McArthur was outstanding for us today, but he’s been playing at Wigan and Crystal Palace. Maybe he could have been a pretty successful player for Chelsea or Tottenham or someone else if they’d got hold of him.”
Palace saw McArthur line up alongside his former Hamilton Academicals team-mate James McCarthy on Saturday, and the midfielder signed from Everton in the summer pleased Hodgson with his performance.
“He’s a good player,” he said. “I knew that when we signed him, that he was a very good footballer. The only question was, a bit like Jack Wilshere when he came here, he hadn’t played for a bit. But the fact is you don’t lose qualities that you have.
“Two qualities he has in an abundance is he’s very technical, and his understanding of the game and awareness of the game is very good. I knew that.”
McCarthy played less than 20 minutes last season following two serious injuries in quick succession at Everton, and Hodgson has been careful to ensure his return to first-team football is gradual.
“We’ve been holding him back a bit. He’s building up that intensity in the training sessions, but today was a big day for him.
“[It was] the first time he’s started a game for a long time. He’s got to be 100 per cent delighted with his performance.”