09 Mar Aaron Wan-Bissaka set to retain his place when Crystal Palace take on Chelsea
Roy Hodgson is preparing to retain Aaron Wan-Bissaka when Crystal Palace visit Chelsea — despite their easing injury crisis.
The little-known 20-year-old, until recently a midfielder with the club’s under-23s, made his debut at right-back against Tottenham on February 25 when Palace were without 12 injured senior players.
After showing promise against the threat of Dele Alli he was then required against Manchester United with the on-loan Timothy Fosu-Mensah ineligible against his parent club, and excelled against Marcus Rashford and Ashley Young.
Palace lost those fixtures but were unfortunate to do so and impressed during each.
At Stamford Bridge on Saturday they will be confronted by Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian and will again have Fosu-Mensah in a defence also strengthened by the returns of Martin Kelly and Jeffrey Schlupp, but their new full-back could retain his place.
“We now know that he is capable,” said Hodgson.
“But whether he’ll be able to come off against Chelsea in the same way as he came off against Tottenham and Manchester United saying ‘They threw everything at me and I handled it and did very well’. Or whether he’ll come off saying ‘It was difficult, because this player and that player were too good’. I don’t know.
“But I know one thing: (Joel) Ward is still absent but Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s available again, and at the moment you’d look at those two and wouldn’t think ‘It’s got to be Timothy’, you’d look at both of them and think ‘Which one do I want to play?’. It’ll be another big demand placed on him.
“The thing that’s most unusual in Aaron’s case is his chance came first against Tottenham and then against Manchester United, and two tougher tests than that you can’t really ask for.”
While England manager Hodgson gave international debuts to Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Alli and more who have since excelled, and he revealed Wan-Bissaka’s seamless transition into first-team football reminded him of theirs.
“You could mention Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling,” said Hodgson, who remains without Yohan Cabaye and Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Saturday’s fixture but will hand late fitness tests to Mamadou Sakho and Wilfried Zaha.
“You could talk about Dele Alli coming in for England and scoring on his debut. You could also talk about Harry Kane coming in for England and scoring on his debut.
“He’s got the qualities a player needs. He knows how to defend. He is strong for his age and his level of experience. He has a good attitude and he will be getting better all the time.
“The more games he plays, the more training sessions he has he will be getting better. It will be up to him to see where it takes him.”