Crystal Palace are currently joint top of the Premier League’s injury list, matching Watford with 12 senior players on the injury table.
With so many first-team players unavailable as the relegation pressure only continues to build, manager Roy Hodgson has a serious job on his hands.
The likes of Yohan Cabaye, Wilfried Zaha, Mamadou Sakho, Scott Dann, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Bakary Sako all on the sidelines meaning the very backbone of Crystal Palace’s side (with the exception of Luka Milivojevic) are unable to have any input in Palace’s survival hopes.
But yet, there is still a very decent chance that they will stay up.
Understandably for Eagles fans, their next few fixtures do not look promising. They host Tottenham tomorrow, Manchester United on March 5th and travel to Chelsea a week later. A trio of fixtures that not many football fans are expecting Palace to get anything out of.
However, most of Palace’s injured players are not expected to return for at least two of those three games, meaning that with the best will in the world, a loss wouldn’t have as much of a sting.
However, the vast majority of Palace’s injured players are set to return in drips and drabs throughout March and early April and that’s when they start to have a much more comfortable looking fixture list.
After playing Huddersfield on March 17th and Liverpool on March 31st, Palace’s remaining six games of the season are all teams that also are scrambling for safety, including Brighton, Stoke, Watford and West Brom on the final day of the season.
By the Bournemouth fixture on April 7th, Palace are expected to have Mamadou Sakho, Yohan Cabaye, Joel Ward, Martin Kelly, Julian Speroni and Wilfried Zaha all back and ready for selection.
Whilst that doesn’t full glue their squad back together, it brings back several crucial players into Palace’s relegation fight.
We’ve seen in recent months how important Wilfried Zaha is to Palace’s fortunes, as well as Mamadou Sakho’s defensive capabilities.
Better still, Yohan Cabaye still leads the league for most interceptions by a midfielder, so his return will be very welcome indeed.
With the closely-knit nature of this season’s relegation battle, the decision of who stays up could come down to one or two results over the next three months and with Palace virtually back to their best, you’d be hard pressed to back them going down.