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Men's Football Hodgson admits Palace lack confidence in front of goal

ROY HODGSON admits Crystal Palace’s struggles in front of goal have affected the players’ confidence, but he feels there were encouraging signs in Sunday’s 2-0 loss at Everton.

Palace have scored only five times in nine Premier League games this season and once in their last four following the result at Goodison Park, their third straight defeat.

Jordan Pickford saved Eagles captain Luka Milivojevic’s 60th minute penalty before substitutes Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun netted late on.

Palace boss Hodgson, whose side are two points above the relegation zone in 15th place, said when asked about the problems in front of goal: “Of course it does [affect confidence], there’s no doubt about that.

“But having said that, we’re coming to Everton, they’re on the back of two very good results and I thought for the best part not only did we defend well enough to stifle most of their efforts, I thought we also looked pretty dangerous going forward.

“If we can continue to do that, the goals will definitely come.

“Luka has only missed two penalties out of about nine or 10, so I’m sure he’ll score the next one. I’m sure we’ll get penalties and opportunities, because we do send people forward, into the opposition’s box.”

As the visitors applied pressure in the first half, James Tomkins headed a decent chance wide, Milivojevic’s free-kick was turned behind by Pickford and Cheikhou Kouyate’s header hit the bar.

Having won only two of the first nine, Palace’s next four league fixtures see them face Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United.

Hodgson said with regard to heading into that tough-looking schedule: “My mindset is that we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing.

“We’ll continue to prepare as best we can to make certain the players know what they are going to come up against.

“We’ll continue to work hard at the way we play to make certain we’re as organised as we can possibly be.

“And then of course we’ll be hoping the chances that come our way are taken and we’re able to defend well enough to stifle the opposition.

“Certainly in most of the last games we haven’t exactly been staring down the barrel of a gun for long periods of time in terms of the opponents scoring, but we can do a bit more ourselves, and I think we started to show that (against Everton).

“In the first 60 minutes, we were quite dangerous I thought.”

Hodgson, who was without striker Christian Benteke as he continued his recovery from knee surgery, started with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend furthest forward on Sunday.

The fit-again Connor Wickham came off the bench for his first appearance in just under two years, Jordan Ayew was an unused substitute and Alexander Sorloth missed the game through sickness.

Everton’s starting XI included Andre Gomes, as the Portugal midfielder, having recovered from a hamstring injury, made his first appearance since joining on loan from Barcelona in August.

Toffees boss Marco Silva, whose side registered their third successive league win and rose to eighth, said of Gomes after bringing him in for Tom Davies: “He did well, like we expected.

“He is working really hard and well. He is a player who can give us different things in that zone.

“I am happy with Tom, with his performances, as well.

“I expected a tough game with our opponent having good defensive organisation and we needed Andre to control the ball, to give different solutions for us, a little bit different profile than Tom.”

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