Former Liverpool man Sakho ‘unwilling’ to play for Crystal Palace

Mamadou Sakho is too “scared” to risk a recurrence of a calf problem despite Crystal Palace’s injury crisis and the club believing him to be fit.

Sakho’s absence means Roy Hodgson remains without 12 senior players for Sunday’s visit of Tottenham, and at a time when his defence is already severely weakened and the threat of relegation is significant.

Defenders Joel Ward, Martin Kelly, Scott Dann and Jeffrey Schlupp are also all absent, and the 70-year-old Hodgson is frustrated that one of his highest-paid, senior players is “unwilling” to play.

“He feels, in his own words, scared that something’s going to happen if he plays and he’s unwilling to take the risk,” the Palace manager said.

“We thought he was going to be back, but he is still feeling his calf injury. At the moment he is making it clear he doesn’t feel confident enough to play.

“I’m disappointed in that as I thought we would have got him back after the Newcastle second half when he played so well, but it hasn’t turned out that way. We will just have to wait and see but it’s really when he lets us know he’s ready. We’ll have to wait and see, and we are waiting for him to let us know when he’s ready.”

Hodgson also confirmed he had been trying to encourage Sakho to risk selection before responding, when asked if he felt he was succeeding, “Obviously not”.

A groin injury suffered on Thursday by Yohan Cabaye means that in addition to those absent at the back, Hodgson is also without Julian Speroni, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Bakary Sako, Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Connor Wickham.

The latter has so far been sidelined for all of this season with the same knee injury that meant he missed most of the last, but despite a recent setback he could again soon be available.

“It’s certainly not out of the question,” Hodgson said. “But it would be very foolish of me to sit here and say he’s making great progress and he’ll be back.

“It was such a serious injury and he’s had a number of setbacks in the injury, and I know our medical staff know him better than I do, because they’ve worked with him a longer period of time.

“Their concern is he’ll go out and he’ll push it and he’ll go OK for a while but then he’ll suffer some other injury.

“They don’t want that. They want to make sure that when he comes back, he’s back.”

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