Hodgson hails Milivojevic consistency
Serbian is Palace’s top scorer with 10 goals.
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has praised the “outstanding” Luka Milivojevic for his consistency throughout a troubled season in which they have battled against relegation.
On Saturday they host rivals Brighton targeting a victory in pursuit of their bid to preserve their Premier League status, and Milivojevic’s influence will again be key.
He scored a fine free-kick in last week’s 2-2 draw at Bournemouth to reach double figures for the season and the midfielder’s composure will be crucial in a high-pressure fixture.
Milivojevic has also shown leadership in other ways, repeatedly wearing the captain’s armband for the Eagles.
“From the moment I stepped through the door here he’s been absolutely excellent in every respect – outstanding,” said Hodgson.
“It is very valuable (to have consistency in selection). That’s something we’ve not been able to do with our team, and in Luka you are talking about one of those guys who right from the first minute, he has played 90 minutes and then trained every day and got ready for the next game.
“As a football coach that is the biggest compliment you can pay a player that you go out on the field and do your job every week and do it well and then after the game is over you get back to training on Monday and get ready for the next one, and those players are the ones that I am looking for.
“Reliability and consistency of performance are two factors in a football player that I praise unbelievably highly. The reader might say ‘Shouldn’t all players be like that? Shouldn’t they all be consistent and have the ability to recover from injury and get out on the field again?’ But they can’t all do that. Luka can.”
The 27-year-old will again start on Saturday against Brighton, when strikers Christian Benteke and Alexander Sorloth could also be available depending on the outcome of late fitness tests.
Members of the Serbia national team coaching staff recently visited Milivojevic amid their preparations for the summer’s World Cup, and Hodgson said: “A large part was to discuss their preparations for the World Cup and the work we do with Luka so there can be some sort of communication between the two teams.
“Having two very consistent, two very reliable players of the quality of (Manchester United’s Nemanja) Matic and Milivojevic, you have to go into the World Cup believing you have got a bit of a chance.”