BY ANDREW McSTEEN
Crystal Palace midfielder James McCarthy racked up his 18th Premier League appearance of the season in the 2-2 draw away at Manchester City on Saturday – one more than the three previous seasons combined following a number of injuries for the Ireland international.
His 90th-minute tackle and then pass through to Wilfried Zaha saw the Ivorian forward force an own goal from City’s Fernandinho to ensure Roy Hodgson’s Eagles earnt a point with the Palace manager reflecting on the vindication of signing a player with little match action when he joined the club last August.
“You have to push hard sometimes for the club to sign a player of his type because of course they look at the past record [of injuries],” said Hodgson to the South London Press. “There’s always that temptation of saying: ‘How can you be sure that he’s going to be as good again as you remember him and as good again as you thought he was?’ because maybe now he’s a totally different person.
“Unfortunately that’s just two elements which cannot be proven until such time as you take the step to bring the player to your club,” added Hodgson.
“Of course, I don’t bring players to the club – the chairman and the board bring players to the club because, as yet, none of my money has gone towards signing a player of paying his wages so you make your arguments and you put forward your case and I’m fortunate that in this instance the club believed in it and I think the club will be fortunate in going forward having acquired such a good player for so little money.”
The persistence of McCarthy right until the last moments of the match at the Etihad Stadium confirmed ninth spot in the table for the Eagles who were unbeaten in five league matches before last night’s 2-0 defeat to Southampton.
“The action he performed for our equalising goal on Saturday was quite incredible,” said Hodgson. “To do that amount of running to win the ball back that late in the game, to win a difficult challenge and get himself back up on his feet and produce that pass – that was a real class act and it just showed that my faith in him as a class player was being rewarded.
“You feel pleased for the player yourself and you feel a level of satisfaction yourself,” he added to the South London Press. “He’s had a tough time, but he’s now come through that and, once again, is playing at the level we know he is capable of playing at.”
PICTURE BY KEITH GILLARD