Palace on course to achieve Hodgson’s short-term goal

Ruben Loftus-Cheek holds off Claudio Yacob at The Hawthorns. Picture:PA

Roy Hodgson is achieving his short-term goal of Crystal Palace not being cast adrift – with Saturday’s stalemate at West Bromwich Albion lifting the South London club to 18th in the Premier League table.

Back-to-back clean sheets could be vital if the survival fight comes down to goal difference and the point banked at The Hawthorns has seen the Eagles move above Swansea and West Ham.

Hodgson said: “Myself and my staff said all along the important thing was when we get the January transfer window over, we want to be in a situation where we’re in contact. We don’t want to be divorced, like we were after seven games, and it looked quite hopeless.

“As long as we can stay in that mix, we believe the work the lads are putting in will pay dividends. We’ve got better over these eight games.”

Palace were not aided by injuries ruling out Yohan Cabaye, James Tomkins and Scott Dann.

Wayne Hennessey suffered a back spasm in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Julian Speroni. It left the Eagles with only five substitutes.

Hodgson said: “Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Not least of all sitting for hours and hours on a train [on Friday] which was stuck on the tracks just outside of Euston [train] station and arrived at halfpast nine instead of five o’clock.

“I’m really pleased with the way the players did their jobs and we got what I consider a valuable and well-deserved point.

“We had a game on Friday night, for some of the players who have not played for a while.

“We thought we could just take the [squad of] 18 on this occasion and ended up with 16.

“But to be honest, 18 is a comfort zone. You very rarely need that many subs. You’ve often got three you have got in mind that are more likely to play.”

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni 7, Ward 8, Sakho 7, Kelly 5, Schlupp 5, Townsend 5 (Sako 86), Milivojevic 6, McArthur 6, Loftus-Cheek 6, Zaha 5, Benteke 5. Not used: van Aanholt, Fosu-Mensah, Sako, Puncheon, Riedewald.

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