They’re gradually coming back, but obviously they’ve been out for a long time so they’re not really ready to go straight back into the team.
This week we’ve seen the re-emergence of Gary Cahill, James Tomkins. Also even Patrick van Aanholt, though we’re limiting some of the contact work as far as he’s concerned to try and give them a bit more time because it’s a shoulder injury. But obviously it’s very good to see them back in training.
It just leaves Jeff Schlupp at the moment still out injured, and we’re even hoping we might get him back over the next couple of weeks in the international break.
How do you assess Chelsea so far?
Well, it’s early days, isn’t it. They’re bedding in new players. I think they’ve made some excellent signings, they’ve done some great business in terms of improving their team, improving their squad.
I think three games is too early to assess any team, quite frankly. You’re off to a good start or a poor start. Teams can look good or not in one game.
It’s really when things settle down you can make judgements, so I won’t make any judgements whatsoever, but I’m very much aware of how much quality they have in their team and their squad as well.
We’re playing of course a very tough game.
Handball debate rumbling on – is there a worry players can now deliberately try to hit an opponent’s arm?
Yeah, that’s being discussed. Of course players are clever and know how to take advantage of the situation. It’s certainly not beyond the bounds of possibility that something like that could happen.
A worse scenario is players trying to run with their arms behind their backs, because you can’t run with your arms behind your back.
You need your arms for balance and to propel you in the air, jumping for the ball.
What’s more, not may people have a kinaesthetic sense that they know exactly where their arm is in relation to their body are when they’re running at full speed and diving in to very important situations to save your team from conceding goals.
So as far as I’m concerned I’m glad the debate is going on. But until such time that they can get to a situation where players are not being asked to do abnormal things with their bodies, it will remain an area of concern.
You’ve made some exciting signings, would you like one or two more?
Not necessarily now, no. The squad is looking much stronger than in previous years at the club.
We do have good cover, basically, in almost every position. If an opportunity does come up with a player in an area of the squad where we think we could use some extra cover, we’ll be interested, but we’re not desperately searching any more.
I think the signings we’ve made have been the right ones and can put us where we want to be.
It’s more a case that one or two players that have not played a lot in the last couple of season need to show what they can do now.
Rhian Brewster is joining Sheffield United – if you could bring a player in would it be a striker?
I don’t know. Not necessarily because we have five players now in that area which is quite a lot.
Strikers are always very important people, no coaches really ever turn their nose up at the opportunity to sign a striker, especially a good one who can score goals.
I’m not prepared to say that it’s out of the question, but like I said earlier, we’re not desperate in our search.
EFL window closes later – is Said Benrahma someone you’d still want?
Well, once again the name is put out there by somebody; I’m in a position where I’ve either got to say ‘No, we’re not interested because the player’s no good’, or ‘Yes we are interested, he’s a good player.’
But the bottom line is, as far as I’m concerned, there isn’t any real dialogue going on between us and Brentford.
We certainly haven’t discussed buying a player in his position, of his type.
But who knows? I’ve got no idea what Brentford are thinking, and it would be very unusual and even stupid of me to come out and say he’s not a good player.
But we have players in that position. We’ve signed Eze to strengthen us in that area, and on top of that we have Jeffrey Schlupp, Andros Townsend and Max Meyer, so we certainly aren’t short of players in the position in which Said Benrahma plays.
Zaha going from maybe unhappy a year ago to having the captain’s armband. How has he been on the training field, and would you be surprised to receive a bid for him now?
I’ve been told, and Wilfried – it’s been made clear to him that we aren’t interested in late bids.
If it was going to happen, it would need to happen in a timeframe which would give us the chance to see what we want to do with the money his transfer generated.
So close to the end to the transfer window, I would hope that certainly that isn’t going to happen.
I want to continue working with him. Nothing has made me believe anything other than that he still loves his football, and wants to play football and I would like for him to continue playing that football here.
I wouldn’t make quite so much of the captain’s armband. We’ve had two captains in Luka Milivojevic who hasn’t featured yet and Scott Dann who got injured.
Mamadou Sakho who has captained the club in the past is coming back late as well and fatigued. So really, Wilf got the armband being the most senior one and the most deserving, but I wouldn’t want fans or anybody to read too much into the fact that Wilf will be the captain regularly, he won’t because when Milivojevic returns he will take the armband.
And also, Wilf doesn’t need that. People have suggested that it was a clever stroke by making him captain, but there was never any question of that.
He knows where his place is and what he needs to do for this team, and he doesn’t need the captain’s armband to help him produce that.
How’s Nathaniel Clyne getting on?
Good! Good, I mean it’s been good working with him, I’ve been enjoying seeing him and we believe – hope – that he’s getting back to his best in the coming days.
We’ll be reassessing that because right-back is a position that we aren’t covered at the moment because the young lad we brought in to come in to play in that position[Ferguson] is still struggling with that knee injury.
There is an opportunity, I think, for someone like Nathaniel to come into the club if that’s what everyone at the club thinks is the right thing to do, but I’ve certainly been impressed with his performances.
Premier League rolling out ‘more subjective’ handball rules this weekend – do you welcome that?
Yes, I welcome the decision being placed back in the hands of referees to make a subjective decision on the field. That’s welcome news.
But it’s not something I have actually propagated other than making the comments after the game last week about the situation which I thought was definitely wrong – but I didn’t do that in order to promote some sort of debate on the subject.
Of course it’s something that has been rumbling for some time and you speak to other managers and coaches and referees, you realise that no-one within the game is that happy about all these suggestions on where arms should be and whatever, because it makes it very difficult for them to assess the situation in a footballing way – i.e. was that a handball that was meant to prevent a goal chance or was it simply a case of the guy trying to get out of the way and it hitting his hand?
Eberechi Eze got his first Premier League start, how is he adjusting to the Premier League?
It’s very early days. One full game and a couple of substitute appearances.
But certainly if I’m to go on the training sessions, of which I have a lot more evidence to judge, he’s doing very, very well. Settled in quickly, perfectly at home with the level of intensity which his fellow players surround him.
We’re hoping we’ve made the right decision in putting our money where our mouth is in regard to him, believing that he is a player that definitely brings great value to the club. In terms of the necessary transfer value to the club, we hope that that’s going to be proven throughout the season.
I don’t want to put extra pressure on him. The start has been good, I know that he’s desperate to make certain that it isn’t just a start, that he is a consistent performer throughout the season.
You’ve started the season with two more points that at this point last year, how would you assess the start to the new campaign?
I’ve been pleased with the three performances – they’ve been against top teams, of course.
Southampton, Man United and Everton, and now Chelsea: on paper we were handed a tough start, but we were very pleased with performances from the players and six points on the board, and with the chance of getting a few more if they can reproduce those performances.
Frank Lampard – how do you assess his start to managing in the top tier?
I think he’s been excellent, he’s shown tremendous composure, he’s shown tremendous maturity in the job.
He’s also shown he’s not afraid to make tough decisions, and he’s also shown that he’s not afraid either where money is available to spend that money in order to make his team and his squad even stronger. I think his start in management has been really good but I’m not so surprised.
People like himself and Steven Gerrard, who I was fortunate enough to manage in my England days, it doesn’t surprise me one bit, knowing those men, and knowing the quality football players they were, that they’re making a success of their start
As part of Black History Month, Crystal Palace’s foundation will be spotlighting black history in South London among other things. How important do you think it is for clubs to continue to support conversations around race and diversity?
It’s vitally important. It’s very good to see the level of interest in the subject has reached where it is now.
It’s always been there, I guess, rumbling on in the background, but it seems to me now that more concrete steps are going to be taken and people are certainly prepared to not just talk about things, but to actually do things.
It’s certainly long overdue. In our region, a lot of our fanbase come from those backgrounds, and I applaud everyone’s initiative and I’m obviously very pleased with everything we do at the football club to promote Black Lives Matter and anti-racism campaign. Because we are in the heart of a part of London where we’re involved in it
Cheikhou Kouyate has been playing well at centre-back, do you see him staying there long term?
He’s stepped in there due a situation we’ve had with centre-backs being injured. It’s quite fantastic what he’s been able to do, we’re very pleased with his performances and he seems to be very confident playing there.
So it’s a nice problem to have, quite simply, it wasn’t one that I envisaged initially. I thought he would still be a midfield player.
But since he’s moved back and done as well as he’s done, I’ve got the task of deciding can I afford to take him out of there and bring him back in midfield or do I want him to play at centre-back?
How much longer will it be until we see Nathan Ferguson in the first-team squad?
Well of course he is in the first-team squad, he’s one of the injured players in the first team squad.
We can’t put a timescale on it at the moment. It’s important that he has the time that he needs to make certain that when he trains he doesn’t suffer from the swelling of the knee or any discomfort.
It really is a fairly slow process and one we have to go through.
He’s desperate to get back and playing as soon as he possibly can, but everything has to be done in tandem between how he’s feeling and when the medical department believe he can join in without it causing discomfort.
Will anybody be leaving in the transfer window? Is anything close?
Well, we’re not trying to get people to leave, but one can never say never in a transfer situation.
The basic fact of the matter is that we have a squad now that we believe in, it’s strong in a lot of areas, we’re well covered in a lot of areas, and if we were to lose people, we would be exposing ourselves to perhaps a lack of cover.
Nothing appears to be on the table, there doesn’t appear to be any spectres on the horizon when it comes to that front.
I’m basically contemplating and preparing for when this window ends, the group I have now will be the group for the rest of the season.
What have you made of Tyrick Mitchell so far this season?
I’ve been very impressed from the first morning he joined the first-team squad at the beginning of last season. Injuries stopped him from really making the progress we would have liked.
It was only towards the end of the season really where he could show off what a good player he is. We always believed he had that talent and that quality.
It went very well for him at the end of last season, and he started this season in the same vein.
He should be very proud of himself, he should be very pleased with what he’s achieved so far but he’s a young man and he realises there is an awful lot of work to do, because to consistently produce the performance he’s doing at the moment over the course of the season, that takes even more than he’s been tested on so far.
Did Lampard ever ask for your advice in the last few years of his playing career, or since he became a manager?
No – we never discussed management.
Recently we’ve had some chats on the phone, but it’s not been anything other than the ones you have with another manager. I can’t honestly say that would be the case.
Chelsea’s away kit this season is similar to traditional Palace colours, a lot of fans have been quite critical – do you have any opinion on that away kit?
I don’t know whether my TV is playing up, but it looked like it was pink to me. Not sure there’s any comparison with our red and blue at all, other than the few stripes at the top.
I can’t really understand where it’s coming from, but maybe it’s the colour of my television and it’s actually red with blue stripes, but I thought it was pink.