• By Charlie Stong at Selhurst Park

Hodgson praises defence after win over Southampton


Roy Hodgson praised his stand-in defenders after a clean sheet in the opening day victory over Southampton.

The Eagles won 1-0 at Selhurst Park yesterday, thanks to a Wilfried Zaha goal but also thanks to a commanding defence from the back line – despite Palace missing some key defenders.

Hodgson said: “The back four which has really propped us up towards the end of last season, to be honest - we had pretty much the same thing.

“We didn't have James Tomkins, we didn't have Mamadou Sakho because he got injured against Aston Villa, we didn't have Gary Cahill because we lost him in the Chelsea game - these guys came in at the end of last season and on top of that had to go through four pre-season games.

“I really take my hat off to them, they've been quite fantastic. The only problem is we're really on a knife edge because we know there should be competition for places, we should have players ready to come in and take the place of this back four in case something goes wrong, and we know due to injuries we don't have that.”

Palace started the game slowly, but noticeably grew in confidence after Zaha’s 13th-minute strike.

The boss, who celebrated three years in charge at Selhurst yesterday, said: “I am very pleased. We faced a good team. I knew it would be a tough opening fixture for us.

"I'm really pleased by the way we approached it, our determination and resilience we showed to make certain we didn't concede after taking the lead.

“I have to take my hat off to our goalkeeper for making what I thought was a fantastic save midway through the second half from Danny Ings. It quite easily could have cost us.”

Speculation over Zaha’s future will inevitably crop up again, but Hodgson was hopeful the Ivorian would remain in South London.

He said: “Every transfer window I've been involved in, Wilf has made noises that he'd perhaps like to play for a club that can offer Champions League football, maybe a step up in his career because he's given a large part of his career to us and we're grateful for it.

“But for anything to happen, that club's got to come along and pay the market price.

“Until such time as that happens, I'm just happy continuing working with Wilf. I expect him to understand that we can't let him go until someone comes in and wants to buy him.”

Palace face Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup in midweek before a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United next weekend.

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