Roy Hodgson has ruled out his captain and vice-captain, Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon, for the rest of the season after both players suffered knee ligament damage in Crystal Palace’s draw with Manchester City on New Year’s Eve.
The duo sustained the injuries in separate clashes with Kevin De Bruyne, who was carried off on a stretcher after a wild tackle by Puncheon but recovered to play a key role in Manchester City’s win over Watford on Tuesday night.
Puncheon also departed on a stretcher, and after Palace came from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 on Tuesday, the manager confirmed he would be out two of his leaders for the rest of the campaign with the possibility of missing the start of next season too.
However, Hodgson was delighted with his team’s performance and praised his squad’s work ethic since he arrived at the club, when they were bottom of the league without a win or even a point.
“It was great that we could get the 3 points from the game because all too often we’ve come close only to surrender it for one reason or the other. The heaviness of our legs and the heaviness of the pitch meant it wasn’t the first half performance I expected. We know there’s character in the team, we know there’s good professionals.
“For any team in this league, if you can look back on 11 games and you’ve only lost one of them, you’ve got to be very very satisfied. I think I set quite high standards and quite high demands and the players are only to happy to meet those.”
Luka Milivojevic swept home the winning goal and Hodgson credited him after the midfielder missed a crucial penalty against City. “I was very pleased for him,” said Hodgson. ”I’m sure he was very disappointed to miss that penalty.”
Mauricio Pellegrino’s side are now in freefall and have slipped to 17th in the league table, and the Southampton manager insisted he is not fearful of losing his job at St Mary’s. “The big risk in our job is to do our job. I prefer to assume risk than not do anything. I feel fear for other things but not about football. I feel responsible.”