Strikers Christian Benteke and Alexander Sorloth have returned to contention for Crystal Palace’s home clash with rivals Brighton.
Roy Hodgson’s injury-stricken squad secured a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth last weekend in the absence of a recognised striker, but the Eagles boss revealed he could yet persevere with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend as an unorthodox front two.
Jeffrey Schlupp is also nearing his first-team return from an ankle injury as Palace look to take a significant step towards preserving their Premier League status with victory on Saturday.
Hodgson said of Benteke and Sorloth, who have been struggling with respective groin and hamstring problems: ‘Alexander Sorloth trained for the first time and got through the session well. Christian has made enormous progress.
‘(Benteke) joined in the initial part of the session before going back to the sports scientist people to check, but if he can train normally (on Friday) then he will be available.
‘Andros and Wilf were good (at Bournemouth), but it’s a nice problem to have. It’s one thing we’ve not had in terms of a problem – a lot of players sitting behind me (on the bench). Any cover we’ve had has been in defensive areas.
‘We’ve been unbelievably limited and forced to get through games with the 11 or 12 who are the right ones to do the job, but now hopefully we’ll have those guys back up front.
‘Jeffrey Schlupp might not be out for too much longer, too, which adds to our options. We might have a squad which gives me options to change people or bring people on late on, and changes in formation.
‘(Schlupp’s) closer to the team quicker than he should have been. He picked up a nasty injury against Huddersfield and we thought as long as eight weeks, but it’s four or five since we played and already he’s showing signs of being on the field with us.
‘I won’t get him back until the medical people are convinced he’s ready, but it’s quicker than we’d anticipated.’
Hodgson remains without long-term absentees Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Jason Puncheon, Bakary Sako and Connor Wickham, but is more ‘concerned’ about their recent run of conceding late goals, as they again did at Bournemouth.
‘Of course it’s a concern,’ he said. ‘Every goal you concede is, whether in the first or last minute. But you have to analyse why they’ve been conceded.
‘(Brighton) are a team who know exactly what they’re doing, and do it extremely well. A hard working team. A derby factor, too, which is important for both sets of supporters.
‘It’s going to be a big occasion, but I believe we are ready for it.’