Crystal Palace have landed a boost ahead of Everton’s trip to Selhurst Park, as Mamadou Sakho has hinted to the Eagles’ official website that he may be fit to face the Toffees in the Premier League curtain-raiser.
We are set to travel to South London for the opening day fixture on August 10, and faced the prospect of coming up against a weakened Palace side, with Sakho on the return from a knee injury.
The £13.5m-rated Frenchman stepped up his recovery with a sixty-minute run out against League One side AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night, however, and shared after the game that he feels good having undergone an operation on his knee toward the end of last season.
“I feel good and really happy,” Sakho said. “Step by step, coming back, I’m coming back.
“During the holiday, I’ve worked really hard. I had just ten days off – three days with my charity work [in Senegal], a week with my family – apart from that, I worked really, really hard every day – training in Miami and in Dubai too.”
Palace being without Sakho for the opening day fixture would have been a boost for Everton, but alas it seems the 29-year-old will be in contention for a place in Roy Hodgson’s starting line-up.
The former France international started in each of the Eagles opening 27 top-flight games last season, but saw his campaign cut short in February when he was forced off against Leicester City.
Prior to the blow, he had averaged 1.2 tackles per game, which ranked him third among Palace’s centre-backs who made more than five appearances in the position. However, he held the second-best success rate at 75% with an average of 0.9 successful tackles per ninety minutes, compared to Martin Kelly’s 77% hit rate and James Tomkins’ 70%.
Sakho led by example in interceptions at Selhurst Park, too, with an average of 1.5 per 90, compared to Tomkins’ 1.2, Kelly’s 0.9 and Scott Dann’s 0.7. While the 29-cap former international also penned vastly fewer fouls with an average 0.2 per 90, compared to Dann and Tomkins’ 0.6 and Kelly’s 0.5.
Having Sakho fit will, therefore, be a huge boost to Hodgson ahead of our curtain-raising trip to South London, while spelling bad news for Marco Silva as he faces a far more incisive centre-back in the opponent’s ranks.