Roy Hodgson remained defiant after Crystal Palace’s defeat against Southampton and said he took Ruben Loftus-Cheek off because the on-loan Chelsea midfielder was suffering from cramp.
Palace’s 1-0 home defeat in new manager Hodgson’s first match in charge means they became the first top-flight side to lose all four of their opening games of a season without scoring.
And many fans were unhappy that Loftus-Cheek, who arguably looked the Eagles’ most threatening player, was taken off in the second half.
But Hodgson remained bullish about Palace’s ability to turn their season around and insisted he had no choice but to replace the England Under-21 international, who was passed fit to return to the side following a recent injury.
Speaking at his post-match press conference after the game at Selhurst Park, Hodgson said: “He played well but he cramped up so couldn’t play anymore and had to come off.”
Worryingly for struggling Palace, their next three games see them host champions Chelsea and play away at Manchester City and Manchester United.
But Hodgson insisted: “We’ll work hard and if there are points to be won then we’ll get them.
“We won’t be lying down but, realistically, when you look at these three games, people will say ‘how can you win them?’ That’s up to us.
“We won’t be the first team to have a disastrous start and to pull ourselves out of trouble.”