Roy Hodgson insisted Crystal Palace cannot “repair the kind of damage we’ve suffered overnight” despite his satisfaction with their 1-0 defeat of Huddersfield in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
In the 70-year-old’s second game as the club’s manager, they earned their first victory over Premier League opposition since May and were further rewarded by their finest performance this season and Mamadou Sakho’s impressive return.
Sakho’s return to fitness and composure significantly contributed to Palace’s first clean sheet of the season as well as their increased confidence, and came against a team who had defeated them 3-0 on the opening weekend.
Bakary Sako also scored his first goal for the club since August 2015, securing their first real positive of an otherwise troublesome start to 2017/18, but Hodgson said: “The players will understand, like the fans do, that you don’t repair the kind of damage we’ve suffered overnight.
“It’s going to be a longish and hard process. But I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and I started to see some shards of that.
“The week’s work has really pleased me. I’m pleased with the win, pleased with the first-half performance after only a week’s work. The second half I was pleased when the going got tougher; we had to dig in, fight, chase and we did that too. It was a very positive evening. We left a lot of players out who have been playing.
“(Sakho) was excellent. He hasn’t been able to train as much as he’d like. We were worried about his level of fitness and surprised he lasted as long as he did. It wasn’t Mamadou being desperate to come off but, as a precaution, we thought he should come off after 70 minutes. He will be ready (to play at Manchester City on Saturday).”
A further positive came in Pape Souare’s first appearance in 12 months, following a career-threatening car crash in which he suffered a broken jaw and thigh bone.
“He made two very important challenges coming through from left-back,” Hodgson said. “Once again, I’m delighted with him.
“We’ve got to be cautious and patient with him. You don’t have a year out of football with the injuries he’s had to recover from, he’s done ever so well to get on that field at all.
“We just have to keep training him, getting him some more games, so he comes back to the player he was before the horrific accident.”
Huddersfield, like Palace, made nine changes to the team that started their past Premier League fixture, and their manager David Wagner said: “We were sloppy in ball possession, not quick enough: we took too many touches on the ball.
“In the second half we were good, created moments, accelerated the game, but didn’t occupy the dangerous areas well enough.
“(Palace had) a different mind-set and set-up. If you know this is the idea, then there’s a lot of improvement. It’s not comparable to what we saw a few weeks ago.”