Injury issues already mounting for Crystal Palace, Southampton

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Roy Hodgson and Ralph Hasenhuttl have each been frustrated by early injuries as they prepare to send weakened Crystal Palace and Southampton sides out on Saturday.

The two teams meet at Selhurst Park for their first match of the Premier League season, but fitness concerns have already arisen.

Hodgson revealed Palace could be without as many as eight players – including striker Christian Benteke and five defenders.

They have at least been able to boost the attack with the signings of Eberechi Eze and Michy Batshuayi.

“At the moment, we’re very handicapped,” Hodgson said. “To have as many as eight players unavailable for this fixture is not a good situation. These are household names and we’re a little dismayed about it. We can’t afford to pick up any more injuries, we’re very short of cover.”

Southampton’s Hasenhuttl is similarly upset, with Stuart Armstrong injured on international duty for Scotland.

While welcoming such call-ups, the Saints boss was hurt by a setback he could not have any influence over.

“It is a sign that we did a good job as coaches that our players have been called up for England, but for preparing for the new season it is not fantastic,” Hasenhuttl said. “We have had some players come back fit and some not so fit. Stuart Armstrong has come back injured from the national team. That is the second time. I really hate it, to be honest.

“It is pre-season and I do everything to keep the players healthy and then he comes back injured after playing 80 minutes.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Crystal Palace – Eberechi Eze

Palace have relied heavily on Wilfried Zaha for far too long, but they now look to have signed a perfect foil for the left winger. Eze is a similarly exciting talent who can play across the front line and should both cause problems for Southampton and create space for Zaha.

Southampton – Danny Ings

Was last season a one-off? Ings enjoyed by far the most productive Premier League campaign of his career as he netted 22 times. Now is the time to back a superb year up by doing it all over again. A place in the England squad is on the line this term.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Palace have won just three of their 22 Premier League matches against Southampton (3-6-13).

– Southampton have won their past three away Premier League visits to Selhurst Park without conceding a single goal. Saints have never won four consecutive away top-flight matches against any one opponent.

– In the six opening day Premier League matches when Palace have played at home, they are yet to win (0-2-4). Their most recent top-flight win at home on matchday one came back in 1971-72, beating 2-0 against Newcastle United.

– Palace have won fewer points than any other ever-present Premier League side in 2020 (16), while Southampton have won 30, the sixth-best tally this calendar year.

– Ings’ 22 Premier League goals last season were the most by a Saints player since James Beattie in 2002-03 (23). Ings has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 14 away Premier League starts (12 goals, two assists).

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