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Crystal Palace boss rues lack of first-teamers for pre-season tour


Singapore (AFP) – Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira said Thursday that the club’s decision to not bring several first-team regulars on a pre-season tour of Singapore and Australia was not ideal preparation for the upcoming Premier League season.

The Eagles face friendlies against Liverpool, Manchester United and Leeds United in Singapore and Australia in the next week, but their 26-man travelling squad features only 11 senior players and is largely composed of youngsters from the club’s academy.

Vieira said he hoped the experience would help develop the young players in his squad. 

Several Palace stars — including Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke, Marc Guehi, Eberechi Eze and Cheikhou Kouyate — remained in London for domestic training and warm-up games, with the club saying they were either not fit or did not meet entry requirements for Singapore or Australia.

Speaking ahead of Friday’s match against Liverpool at the National Stadium in Singapore, Vieira said his team were trying to make the best of the situation.

“Obviously as a manager, the best preparation would be to have all the players around,” he said. 

“But I want to be clear that we are very happy to be here and preparing to play against Liverpool tomorrow and this is part of the process that we needed to go through.”

The Palace boss said some players needed to be left in London to “catch up with the training” or to play practice games.

“So we have brought some young players and for them I think for them it will be a very good experience,” he said.

The former French international said some of the younger players in the squad had “travelled this far for the very first time”.

“How they are going to deal with the time difference, the flights and the challenges we will face in the next couple of games will help us to learn a lot about them.”

Palace captain Luka Milivojevic insisted that he and his teammates were taking the challenge in their stride as they build up to the start of the new campaign next month.

“We are professional football players and we are here to prepare ourselves in the best possible way for the first game of the season,” said the Serbian midfielder.

Following their match against Liverpool, the travelling squad will face Manchester United in Melbourne next week and Leeds in Perth on July 22. 

The London-based players have games against Ipswich Town, Gillingham and Queens Park Rangers before they link up with the rest of the team to play a friendly against French side Montpellier at Selhurst Park on July 30, a week before the season kicks off.

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