Roy Hodgson confirms Ray Lewington remains absent as Palace look to bounce back

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has backed his squad to arrest their slump in form but confirmed assistant Ray Lewington will again be absent from the touchline when Wolves visit on Saturday in the Premier League.

The Eagles have lacked consistency in recent weeks with only one victory from their last 10 games in all competitions.

West Ham sealed a 3-2 win at Selhurst Park on Tuesday and Hodgson was without number two Lewington, who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Ahead of facing a Wolves side who lasted tasted success in the division on December 15, the experienced manager is confident his own group can get back to winning ways soon.

Hodgson said: “I think we have a squad of players which are more than capable of helping us achieve our goals.

“And I am hoping sooner rather than later we will come out of this trough we have found ourselves in where we haven’t won as many games as we would like and we have only been able to boast about some good draws.”

Lewington’s absence was notable in midweek with the former England assistant always vocal during matches.

While Hodgson confirmed the 64-year-old was “definitely feeling better” and set to finish his isolation period at the weekend, he will miss the clash with Nuno Espirito Santo’s men.

He added: “Ray isn’t going to be out of action for any particular length of time and I’m even hopeful that his test will prove negative and he will be back with us as early as the start of next week, but I can’t rely on that.

“First it will be dependent on him finishing his isolation period tomorrow and then getting tested on Sunday and I hope getting the green light to be with us again, but until such time that Ray returns I am more than happy Dave (Reddington), Dean (Kiely) and I can hold the fort.”

Palace have already made one signing this month and forward Jean-Philippe Mateta is set to make his debut on Saturday after he was granted a visa this week.

“He is ready if I want to play him from the start, there won’t be any problems with that but on the other hand if I don’t want to every training session, every day he spends with his new club is a step forward in allowing him to really showcase his talents,” Hodgson said.

“I think he can adapt quickly. He is a physical player, very strong, a good athlete and technically he knows his way around the field and in particular in the penalty area when the ball is in there in terms of scoring goals.”

The 73-year-old does not envisage a busy end to the winter transfer market and while forward Christian Benteke has been linked with a move to West Brom, the PA news agency understands he is expected to spend the rest of the season at Selhurst Park.

On further incomings, Hodgson admitted: “If something comes up you don’t turn your nose up at it but I’m not really expecting it.”