By George Sessions, PA
Roy Hodgson has hinted a decision over his future at Crystal Palace is close with only eight matches left this season.
The Eagles entertain London rivals Chelsea on Saturday night safe in the knowledge they are set for another campaign of Premier League football with Monday’s draw at Everton taking them onto 38 points.
Manager Hodgson, who is out of contract in the summer along with several players, has repeatedly insisted he would discuss his future when the time was right.
And ahead of this weekend’s encounter, the 73-year-old said: “I am in the same situation as the others. Basically I think we all have our own ideas of what our plans are, but we are more than happy to wait a little bit longer before announcing those plans.”
Ex-Chelsea defender Gary Cahill is one of numerous members of the squad at Selhurst Park who will be able to leave on a free, but Hodgson does not believe those out of contract are on trial during the next five weeks.
“I think football clubs should make decisions on players over a body of work and a period of time. It is a big mistake to leave a decision over whether the player has had a good or bad game during the last two or three games of the season,” he said.
“We know our players, we know what they can do.
“Unfortunately for the club there are a number of them who are coming to the end of their contracts so there is a lot of negotiating that has got to be done between the club, the players and the players’ agents.
“That is going on at this moment in time and luckily it has not had any affect on us in the last few games.”
Palace will be without Monday night goalscorer Michy Batshuayi due to the terms of his loan agreement from Chelsea, while fellow forward Connor Wickham is sidelined with a minor knock.
A positive on the injury front is James McCarthy’s return from a groin injury, but Nathaniel Clyne, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho and James McArthur remain unavailable.
Batshuayi’s goal at Everton occurred days after he had bemoaned a lack of chances at the club while away on international duty with Belgium, but the Palace manager called on the striker to remain positive.
Hodgson added: “He will be disappointed because he would have been hoping for another chance to get on the field and score again, but there are lots of games left after this one.
“We have seven matches left to play and if we’re going to do well, we are going to need players available, players in good form and we will need goalscorers. If Michy can fulfil that role, we will be more than delighted.”
Chelsea return to domestic action following a midweek success over Porto in the Champions League, which helped make up for Saturday’s shock loss at home to West Brom.
It was Thomas Tuchel’s first defeat in charge, but Hodgson is not reading too much into that 5-2 reverse with Blues centre-back Thiago Silva sent off inside half-an-hour.
He said: “I regard the West Brom game as one of those one-off games which occur during a season and I don’t expect it to have any major effect on what Chelsea will bring to the table when they play us.
“Of course Thomas has started in the job very well. I thought (former boss) Frank (Lampard) was doing a good job himself, introducing a lot of young players, but Thomas has come in and with his experience built on any foundations that were there.”