'Too early to talk about six-pointer games', says Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson
Hodgson "impressed" with Southampton under Ralph Hasenhuttl
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 29/01/19 4:32pm
Roy Hodgson insists it is too early in the season to suggest Crystal Palace's match against Southampton on Wednesday night is a "six-pointer".
Palace are currently 14th in the Premier League and make the trip to St Mary's level on points with the Saints and only above them on goal difference.
Hodgson's side are three points above the relegation zone having won just six times in the league this season, but the Palace boss dismissed suggestions Wednesday's game is a must-win.
"It's too early to talk about six-pointer games," he said.
"I think you have to keep your powder dry until later in the season for that type of talk."
The Eagles head to Southampton to face a side who have been rejuvenated under current boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The Saints have recorded four wins in eight league games since the 51-year-old took charge - including a home win over Arsenal and a draw away to Chelsea. Although an admirer of the Austrian's impact, Hodgson refused to compare him with former boss Mark Hughes."One has to be impressed watching them play, with their energy and the way everyone's working so hard," the Palace manager added.
"I'm more than happy to congratulate Hasenhuttl on the job he's been doing but it would be very wrong of me to make any comparisons between now and before.
"I can only restrict myself to say that from what we've seen from the videos we know we're in for a very tough game, but I haven't forgotten either that they beat us at Selhurst Park when Mark Hughes was in charge."
Palace have picked up some momentum themselves in recent weeks, winning three of their five matches in 2019, including victories over Manchester City and Tottenham. They have still struggled for goals in the league this season though, scoring just 23 times in as many games, but Hodgson believes that will change.
"I think we've been creating opportunities and I've always believed the goals would come eventually," he said. "I've never been overly concerned that this is a tremendous problem we've had at the club.
"It's like everything with goals, they tend to dry up sometimes and when they dry up you see nothing but doom and gloom, but then all of a sudden they start flowing in and then you ask yourself what you were concerned about in the first place."
Striker Conor Wickham, who scored his first goal in over two years against Tottenham on Sunday, is in contention for Wednesday's game. Christian Benteke also remains available for selection, while the re-signing of winger Bakary Sako from West Brom has also boosted Hodgson's options at the top end of the pitch.
Goalkeepers Wayne Hennesey and Vincente Guaita have also returned from injury and will join Julian Speroni in contention for a starting spot. Hodgson insisted he is happy with his current squad but refused to rule out any more signings before the January transfer window closes.