Roy Hodgson admits Leeds United starter will be 'nervous' for Crystal Palace with drop warning
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Hodgson’s side are suffering from what the Eagles boss has described as an injuries “double whammy” with key players Wilfried Zaha and also first-choice keeper Vicente Guaita both sidelined for Sunday’s clash at LS11.
Spanish custodian Vicente has started 27 of Palace’s 29 league games in goal this season but the 36-year-old is suffering from a calf injury and will be replaced between the sticks by Palace no 2 Sam Johnstone.
Hodgson has made an admission about how the 30-year-old custodian will be feeling upon stepping out at Elland Road but has highlighted Johnstone’s talents and previous accomplishments in backing the back-up stopper to shine.
"We can’t make sure he is ready, he is the only one that can make certain he is ready,” said Hodgson at his pre-match press conference, as quoted by cpfc.co.uk
“I would be very surprised if he was not champing at the bit to get the gloves on and get the jersey on. He has trained very enthusiastically for the last 10 days or so since he came back from injury, and it seems he will be more than ready – if anything he will be over ready.
"He won’t have that lovely tranquillity that a goalkeeper who has been playing every game and getting rave reviews gets. He will be nervous, but we will do everything to quell those nerves because we have great faith in him. He is a great goalkeeper, and we are very lucky that if we lose Vicente we have a man like Sam with his quality and experience in his place.
“Don’t forget, Sam Johnstone has been in the England squad as well, so we are not talking about a guy playing his first Premier League game. We are talking about a guy who might be a bit disappointed that he is not the No. 1 here.”
Sunday’s contest in West Yorkshire will mark Hodgson’s second game back in charge of Palace following the sacking of Patrick Vieira. Hodgson’s second spell at the helm began with last weekend’s 2-1 win at home to Leicester City which left the Eagles in 12th place, three points clear of the drop zone and both a place and a point above Leeds. Hodgson, though, has fired a firm warning to his side that they are far from safe from the dreaded drop in addition to what’s in store at Elland Road.
Hodgson added: “Winning one game hasn’t made it clear that we are no longer relegation candidates. We are. It was great to get that win. It was a vibrant win and we were delighted, but we mustn’t think we have cracked it. We’ve cracked nothing. We need a lot more points. The attitude going into this next game has to be exactly the same.
“[Leeds] are going to be really up for the game. They are going to be as motivated and as anxious to win the game as we are, so what are we going to produce on the field to make sure we end the game coming off it as winners and not them? That will very much be the case with all the games we play. I can’t see one game where that won’t be the case between now and the end of the season.”