Roy Hodgson is optimistic that the issue suffered by James Tomkins during Crystal Palace's narrow Premier League defeat to Tottenham Hotspur is not serious, while he has also expressed hope that Mamadou Sakho could join Martin Kelly back in training before the visit of Manchester United next Monday night [5 March].
After a period of resurgence that saw them fight back admirably from the worst start to a season in top-flight history, the Eagles have been gripped by an injury crisis over recent weeks and were without no fewer than 12 first-team players for the 1-0 home loss to Spurs on Sunday [25 February] that extended their winless run to five matches and left them stuck in 17th, above the relegation zone on goal difference only.
Such a large number was increased to 13 with five minutes remaining of that London derby, when Tomkins experienced what his manager subsequently described as severe cramp and was replaced by 36-year-old Damien Delaney, whose only previous league appearance in 2017-18 came in the 4-0 defeat by United in September.
"Tomkins had been very, very good for us in that position," Hodgson lamented to the press, per Crystal Palace's official website. "Had you asked me 'who is the player you would least like to lose in the last 10 minutes?' He would have been top of the list.
"He went down with serious cramp and tried to carry on, but we could see straight away that it wasn't going to work because he couldn't run properly."
Hodgson is hopeful that Tomkins will be fit for the return fixture against a United team that moved back to second in the table with a 2-1 comeback win over Chelsea yesterday, while Sakho [calf] could join Kelly [hamstring] in resuming training activities.
The former England boss stated before that loss to Spurs that Joel Ward [muscle] and Jeff Schlupp [knee] should also return to action within a week or two, but Wilfried Zaha, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Scott Dann, Jason Puncheon, Bakary Sako, Julian Speroni and Conor Wickham are all still sidelined and Yohan Cabaye remains a doubt.
Versatile Dutch defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah, meanwhile, will definitely be unavailable to face parent club United per the terms of his season-long loan deal at Selhurst Park.
"When you loan players that's what you accept," said Hodgson, whose stretched team play United, Chelsea and Liverpool in their next four fixtures and also contest a relegation six-pointer against Huddersfield Town.
"We've known that from the start of the season, in loaning Fosu-Mensah the best he can have is a 36-game season because he can't play against Manchester United. We'll have to come to terms with that.
"We hope that Tomkins will recover. It doesn't seem to be a serious injury at the moment. Our hopes now lie with Kelly, who will start training on Monday after a long absence, and with Mamadou Sakho, who may return to training or may not."
Hodgson handed academy graduate Aaron Wan-Bissaka his Premier League debut at the weekend and fellow youngsters Nya Kirby, Jason Lokilo and Dion-Curtis Henry all featured on the bench alongside January signing Erdal Rakip.
Fellow new recruit Jaroslaw Jach has yet to be included in a senior matchday squad despite that defensive injury crisis.