Football, Rugby, UFC, GAA
All free when you join eir Broadband
Crystal Palace have been boosted by the return of Wayne Hennessy and Pape Souare for Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final against Watford.
Hennessy missed the 2-1 defeat to Brighton last weekend but he has recovered from his 'slight problem' and is available for selection, while Souare has trained all week following a shoulder injury.
"Pape Souare joined back in training on Monday and has trained all week. It's good news: his shoulder’s okay. Bakary Sako hasn’t trained for the last few days but he's not far from being fit. He picked up a minor calf problem and of course Mamadou [Sakho] is the other one," manager Roy Hodgson confirmed at his pre-match press conference.
"He’s recovering from the operation. It’s a weekly thing but we hope of course that he’ll recover. He's working very hard to recover but he only had the operation just over a week ago. It'll be a while until we see him back in rehabilitation. But he is adamant that he doesn't want to write off the season. He will do his level best but we’ll have to see."
Hodgson is in no doubt as to the size of the challenge ahead of his side and is refusing to look beyond Saturday's quarter-final.
"Of course it would be a wonderful thing to do, to win the FA Cup, but there’s a lot to do before we can even hope to achieve that. We’ve got to get through two very difficult games and then we’d face a very tough opponent in the semi-final," Hodgson added.
"The final is the stuff of which dreams are made of. We have to confront reality and the present when it comes to the match with Watford knowing full-well if we want to see a dream come true, we’ve got to get through that Watford game."
The Eagles are currently 14th in the Premier League table, four points above the relegation zone, and, while retaining their top flight status is the priority, Hodgson insists they can enjoy a good cup run without hampering their league ambitions.
"I see no reason why we can’t do both. Luckily our position in the league - it’s not as good as we’d like - but it’s not precarious at this point in time," he said.
"There’s no reason why we can’t play on both fronts. Even though it's ridiculously hypothetical, it’s like saying, 'someone has decided you can have one of these two things: walk away with the trophy and play in the Championship next year or you can miss out on the trophy and still be in the league, what do you want?'
"In that, I say I want the latter, to be in the league. What I really want is to be in the [Premier] League holding the trophy next year."
Crystal Palace face Watford in the FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday, 16 March live on BT Sport 2 on the eir sport pack [kick-off 12.15pm]. Subscribe here