Team News: Crystal Palace

By: Kevin Affleck

Nigel Pearson is understandably disappointed to lose a player of Gerard Deulofeu's calibre for an extended period, but has laid down the challenge to those in the running to replace the Spaniard to step up and fill his magic-ladden boots.

The former Barcelona forward ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament and tore the meniscus in his right knee following a challenge with Virgil van Dijk in the riotous 3-0 win over Liverpool on Saturday. The 25-year-old is due to have surgery in Barcelona, leaving a hole in the Watford team and the Head Coach is looking at Roberto Pereyra, Ignacio Pussetto and Danny Welbeck as options to fill his shoes on the left side of the front three.

“It's disappointing because he's been one of our really good performers,” said Pearson. “He's been a match-winner, is a very creative player and he will be a miss, but what we have to make sure is that when he does have his surgery, that it's successful and it's about planning his recovery there on in. At this point, prior to surgery, I can't give an indication [into the period on the sidelines]. Normally, these types of injuries you are looking at five to six months, something like that. In the meantime, the players we have available must make sure they are ready to do the job required.”

Troy Deeney told the stricken Deulofeu at half-time on Saturday that he would vow to win the game for him and he delivered big style.

“Wishing @gerardeulofeu all the best with surgery and recovery,” tweeted the captain today. “I'm sure the professionalism you show every day will have you back quicker than ever. See you soon, amigo.”

Apart from Deulofeu and Daryl Janmaat, who is making really good progress following knee surgery, Pearson has a fully-fit squad to choose from for the visit to Selhurst Park on Saturday – and that includes the in-form Ismaïla Sarr.

“He's a player who has had a big impact coming back into the side, a very telling one, too,” said Pearson of the Senegal forward who scored twice against Liverpool. “He's going to be important for us. He's a player with lots of potential but I'm reluctant to put too much emphasis on one player. His qualities give us something very, very different. If we can keep him fit, and he produces the type of form he has been, it is obvious we have a real match-winner.”

Sarr, who was 21 when he joined in the summer, took a while to settle after his club-record move from Rennes, but he's now looking every inch the player the club knew they had signed.

“He's a young man who wants to play regular football, who decided to come to us and we've invested a lot of money in him,” said Pearson. “He's still got things to learn but his natural ability and his physical attributes mean is he a very modern-day player who has the potential to have a very good career.”

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