December 15, 2017 / 10:00 AM / 3 months ago

Hodgson frets over goal-shy Benteke in Palace survival fight

(Reuters) - Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says the relegation-threatened side are in no position to carry misfiring striker Christian Benteke as they fight for Premier League survival.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Crystal Palace vs Watford - Selhurst Park, London, Britain - December 12, 2017 Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson before the match REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The Belgian, who was the club’s top scorer last season, has yet to open his account in 12 league appearances this campaign, including a missed penalty, as 18th-placed Palace battle to revive their fortunes after a dismal start.

Benteke’s form is of major concern for Hodgson as his side have struggled in front of goal, with Palace scoring just 12 times in 17 league games.

“Of course when your front player — the man who is a pivotal focal point in your attack — is not scoring, it’s a concern,” Hodgson told reporters on Thursday. “It’s a concern to him, it’s a concern to us and it’s a concern to fans...

“If the goals aren’t coming he needs to be making certain he’s making a good contribution to the team’s play, both in terms of our attacking and our defensive play.

“We certainly can’t afford to carry anybody, let alone carry a goal-scorer that isn’t scoring goals.”

Hodgson also outlined his transfer plans, saying he would like midfielder Yohan Cabaye to extend his stay at Palace but admitted that the final decision rests in the hands of the club’s board members.

The former England manager said that Palace were keen to recruit goalkeepers, strikers and central midfielders as those were the main positions that lacked cover.

“We have only got two goalkeepers in the club, which I don’t think is anywhere near enough for Premier League football,” Hodgson added.

“We have only got one recognised centre-forward at the club in Benteke, because Bakary Sako was signed as a winger.

“In central midfield we don’t have enough cover, and with Luka Milivojevic out, we find ourselves shorter there. Those are three areas we would like to strengthen and cover.”

Palace can get back-to-back league wins for the first time this season when they travel to eighth-placed Leicester City on Saturday.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru

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