Crystal Palace's Christian Benteke a doubt vs. Bournemouth after training injury
Christian Benteke is a doubt for Crystal Palace's Premier League game at Bournemouth after injuring a groin muscle in training on Thursday.
Benteke had retained his place in the side despite scoring two league goals in 26 appearances this season, with manager Roy Hodgson's attacking options severely limited because of injuries.
With Alexander Sorloth and Connor Wickham already out, Palace could struggle without Benteke and are relying on a positive outcome to a late fitness test.
Hodgson was without 12 senior injured players earlier this season but the recent returns of Wilfried Zaha, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Yohan Cabaye and Mamadou Sakho significantly strengthened his hand.
"Benteke limped off the training field feeling his groin," Hodgson said at a news conference. "We won't know how well he is until the night passes and he comes in and is assessed again [on Friday].
"The squad, which was already thin on the ground, has possibly become thinner if Benteke doesn't make it. I asked the doctor to rate his chances and he's not prepared to."
Hodgson was forced to select Zaha and Andros Townsend as an unorthodox front two when Benteke was injured in September.
"It's not just a question of injury problems," Hodgson said. "We don't have any forwards. Even with Benteke fit, we only have three forwards, and Sorloth is still injured.
"Whatever happens, we don't have players in that area. We haven't had players in that area since the start of the season and the injury to Sorloth hasn't improved that."
Hodgson said he has been "content" with how Benteke has trained despite having scored just two goals all season but he urged that the Belgium international needs to give more.
"He has been doing his level best to bring as many qualities as a centre-forward that he can," Hodgson said. "We try to make certain we encourage him to keep working as hard as he's been working for the team.
"We're hoping that one day, the chances that are being created and that come his way, he'll convert [them]. He's done it in the past and there's no reason to believe he can't in the future."
Hodgson expects central defender James Tomkins to return to his starting XI on Saturday, when three points would leave Palace in a strong position to secure their Premier League status.
The manager also paid tribute to Ray Wilkins, who died on Wednesday at 61 following cardiac arrest.
"[He was] an excellent footballer and he had a fantastic career, and I am deeply saddened to lose an ambassador of his quality so early in life," Hodgson said. "He will be sadly missed."