Hodgson unable to consult “pot of gold” to solve striker problems

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Roy Hodgson has admitted that Crystal Palace do not have the funds to sign the ideal player to solve their striking issues.

Currently, the former England manager has four recognised forwards at his disposal; Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha, Connor Wickham and Jordan Ayew (on loan from Swansea) with Alexander Sorloth now out on loan at Belgium side KAA Gent.

There are a combination of reasons as to why Palace have struggled up front for the last two seasons and it is quickly becoming an issue that requires a swift resolution for a side only four points above the relegation places.

A lack of money for reinforcements

When asked about transfer targets for the January window, especially in the striking department, Hodgson was realistic about the resources available to him:

“We don’t have a massive pot of gold or a treasure chest to go out and choose players all over the world and prize them away from their club by paying transfer fees those clubs want”.

He did confirm that sporting director Dougie Freedman and chairman Steve Parish are working constantly to attempt to find the right players to bring to the football club.

Hodgson did specify further the profile of player the club are looking at stating:

“We’re in a different market to that, we’re looking for players who are available on a free transfer perhaps, or perhaps available to loan and that’s a relatively restricted market”.

A goal drought for Zaha

Palace were often framed as being a ‘one man team’ last season, relying on the talents of home-grown star Zaha to assure their status in the Premier League.

Unfortunately, the Ivory Coast international has failed to produce the same performances this season, netting his last Premier League goal back in September in a 1-0 win away at Huddersfield.

Wilfried Zaha looked threatening against Watford but his own and his teams finishing ultimately cost Palace precious points (Photo: Premier League)

Since that goal in west Yorkshire it has been 16 appearances in all competitions without a goal for the former Manchester United winger, with Hodgson often left turning to captain Luka Milivojevic for goals as the strikers continue to struggle.

The Crystal Palace captain, a January signing in 2017, was the clubs top scorer last season with ten, seven of those coming from the penalty spot.

He is once again the Eagles top scorer this season with six already, more than the four strikers mentioned previously have combined.

Zaha certainly contributes in winning penalties for the Serbian to finish but needs to find the net more regularly himself in order to once again establish himself as one of the most exciting players in the league.

A forgotten man

For many Palace fans, the goal scored by Connor Wickham at Wembley to take the south London club through to the FA Cup final must seem a pleasant but distant memory. The former Ipswich youngster got off to a modest start in Palace colours, scoring six goals in 24 appearances, many off the substitutes bench.

That FA Cup semi-final winner still remains the 25-year-olds only FA Cup goal and has added just two Palace goals since his inaugural season in 2015/16, missing the whole of 2017/18 through injury.

The suggestion of potential can no longer be an excuse for Wickham, who will be looking to prove to Hodgson that he need not dip into the market this month.

A record signing

Crystal Palace forked out a club record £27 million to bring Christian Benteke to the club in the summer of 2016 but the big Belgian has struggled to reach the heights he hit at Aston Villa, where he scored double figures in the Premier League for three consecutive seasons (19,10,13).

The former Liverpool man has 69 Premier League goals to his name but only 18 of those have come in Palace colours, making 72 league appearances so far for the Eagles.

Benteke enjoyed a fine first season at Palace scoring 20 goals in all competitions, including a brace in a 2-1 win at Anfield (Photo: Premier League)

Despite scoring 15 league goals in his first season at Selhurst Park, Benteke has struggled since and Hodgson will hope his recent return from injury will boost his striking options.

Benteke and Wickham have both suffered long-term injuries in recent seasons and have hardly been available to Hodgson since he took over the reins at Palace in September 2017.

Speaking in his post-match press conference after his sides 2-1 defeat to Watford, he acknowledge the role both Benteke and Wickham could have upon their return:

“It would be good to have a slightly bigger squad, it would be good to have a few more options than we’ve got but I’m hoping of course that the return of Benteke and the return of Connor Wickham might just give me a few more options”

A target for January

With Jordan Ayew only at the club on a season-long loan from Swansea, Hodgson may well be looking at his long-term options up front.

After pulling out of a deal to sign Dominic Solanke, who eventually moved permanently from Liverpool to Bournemouth, you wonder the quality that would be accessible to the 71-year-old’s side this month.

Fringe players at top clubs may continue to be a target for Hodgson, Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Tottenham’s Fernando Llorente are two players that could leave their respective clubs this month.

It remains to be seen what Hodgson and Palace’s plans for January will turn out to be but the south London side will hope that if they don’t manage to get the striker they crave through the door, the existing striking core start to deliver on a consistent basis as they look to avoid a relegation scrap this season.

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