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Hodgson simply must replace Benteke with 22-year-old to clinch massive Bournemouth victory

The Crystal Palace supporters are feeling nervous in the Transfer Tavern ahead of their huge clash against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side at The Vitality Stadium. 

Roy Hodgson’s side have had a tough run of fixtures in recent weeks, and they have been desperately unfortunate not to come away with at least one point from their clashes against Liverpool, Man United, Tottenham and Chelsea. The most recent of those fixtures was their clash with Liverpool which ended in a 2-1 defeat for the Eagles, but they were unlucky to walk away with nothing after missing a handful of golden opportunities against the Reds.

Christian Benteke was the biggest culprit of missing chances for his side – a theme which has persisted throughout the season so far. Hodgson will need his centre-forward to be on top form if he manages to recover from a groin injury in time to start against the Cherries, but if not he will have a big decision to make regarding his starting line-up.

With Alexander Sorloth and Connor Wickham also sidelined, Hodgson will have no natural centre-forward to chose from tomorrow afternoon. Palace’s shortage in this position will force the former England manager to think outside the box, and one player he may opt to restore to the starting line-up is Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Loftus-Cheek recently returned to the first-team squad after an extended period on the sideline with an ankle injury by coming off the bench against both Huddersfield and Liverpool. The 22-year-old hasn’t made a start for the club since December, but with Hodsgson desperately short of options, he may be forced to deploy him in an unfamiliar position tomorrow.

Although he is conventionally a central/wide midfield player, Loftus-Cheek could operate in a false-nine role with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend either side of him, as the combination play between the aforementioned trio has been incisive and exciting in the past.

With Benteke ruled out, Hodgson has little choice other than to experiment with something new, and playing Loftus-Cheek in a false-nine role could be a stroke of genius that will enable Palace to take a giant step towards securing their survival this season.

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Article title: Hodgson simply must replace Benteke with 22-year-old to clinch massive Bournemouth victory

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