Belfast Telegraph

Palace problems mount with lack of recognised striker

Roy Hodgson is trying to remain upbeat despite Crystal Palace being without a proven striker at the moment.

Palace's campaign started miserably under Frank de Boer and has not yet improved under the former England manager, with the south Londoners entering the October international break rock bottom of the standings.

Saturday's 4-0 loss at in-form Manchester United meant Palace became the first team in English league history to open the campaign with seven defeats without scoring.

They face reigning champions Chelsea next, with Belgian forward Christian Benteke facing six weeks out with a knee injury, joining fellow striker Connor Wickham and star turn Wilfried Zaha on the sidelines.

Attacking midfielder Bakary Sako had to lead the line at Old Trafford before untested 24-year-old former non-league striker Freddie Ladapo came on for his debut.

"I thought there were periods in the game where our passing wasn't that bad and our composure on the ball was reasonable, but of course we didn't have that threat in the final third and that was the problem," Eagles boss Hodgson said.

"We don't have many options - you saw the young boy Freddie Ladapo come on for his first Premier League game after being signed from non-league a couple of years ago, and he's never had a sniff of first-team football.

"That's our choice at the moment or we go to the 4-6-0 system where you don't play with a recognised centre-forward and use a midfielder.

"That's the situation we find ourselves in - I'm not crying or complaining about it.

"I knew that the centre-forward job was going to be a problem because we had the misfortune of not getting the signing we wanted in the last minutes of the transfer window, so that's something we've got to learn to live with.

"Maybe Zaha when he comes back could give us a bit more potency up front alongside Andros Townsend."

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