Roy Hodgson admits that he may have to field a youthful side in Crystal Palace’s FA Cup match against Derby due to an injury crisis, after the Eagles earned a late draw against Norwich.
Norwich had led through Todd Cantwell’s fourth-minute strike from close range after a fortunate break in the box and were closing in on what would have been three precious points when Palace were given a helping hand by VAR.
As substitute Connor Wickham slid home Wilfred Zaha’s pass from close range the flag immediately went up for offside but the goal was allowed to stand when a check showed defender Christoph Zimmermann was playing him on with his foot.
“In our draw at Southampton we had a goal ruled out for a very tight offside decision which was very frustrating and this time it was the exact opposite, with the technology helping us,” said Hodgson.
“I must admit it looked offside from the bench and I wasn’t surprised when the flag went up, but the replay showed that the defender’s foot was playing Connor onside so it was a pleasant surprise.”
Hodgson felt the equaliser was a deserved reward for his patched up side.
“We had seven players out before the game with injury, players who were regulars in the side earlier in the season, and that became eight when Mamadou Sakho went off at half-time with a hamstring problem,” he said.
“On top of that a number of the players out there today were playing when not fully fit, including Wilfred Zaha, who only said he was okay to play on the morning of the game.
“We have had three tough games against West Ham, Southampton and now Norwich and to have come away with five points is a superb achievement in the circumstances.
“This group of players never ceases to surprise me – after conceding an early goal they showed great organisation and determination to stay in the game and come away with a hard earned point.
“It just leaves me with a real problem for the FA Cup game with Derby on Sunday – I will certainly be struggling to put out the side I would like to and I should imagine a few youngsters will get a chance to show what they can do.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke saw his slide slip seven points adrift of safety as a result of the draw and felt his players had been hard done by at the end.
“It always seems these big VAR decisions go against us so I was not surprised when the goal was given,” he said.
“I suppose I have to accept it if they draw some lines on the screen and it shows that Christoph Zimmermann’s toenail was just in front of their player when he scored. But can we really be sure that these lines are accurate?”
As for his side’s display, Farke added: “The only complaint I would have is that we didn’t score a second goal. If that happens against a quality side like Crystal Palace, with a £60m striker in their side, then things like that can always happen.
“We got an early goal and then managed the game really well. The defending was excellent and we created some good chances as well, including Kenny McLean hitting the underside of the bar, but in the end it just wouldn’t go in for us.”