Crystal Palace are braced to be without their captain and vice-captain, Jason Puncheon and Scott Dann, for the remainder of the season after both players suffered suspected cruciate knee ligament damage in the goalless draw with Manchester City.
Both players sustained their injuries while bringing down Kevin de Bruyne –they were each booked for their indiscretions – in Sunday’s stalemate. Dann, who has been in impressive form over recent weeks and had been Palace’s regular captain under Roy Hodgson with Puncheon out of the team, brought down the Belgian just after the quarter-hour mark on the edge of the home side’s penalty area and fell awkwardly with the Belgian’s weight on his right knee.
The centre-half was taken from the field on a stretcher with Hodgson confirming afterwards that he feared Dann had indeed sustained a “serious injury”. Both Dann and Puncheon are due to undergo scans this week once the swelling on their joints has subsided but early indications are that they have each suffered cruciate damage.
Puncheon, a late substitute at Selhurst Park, had attempted to stop De Bruyne countering in the immediate aftermath of Luka Milivojevic’s missed penalty in stoppage time, with his crude challenge leaving both players on the turf. Puncheon and De Bruyne both departed on stretchers, for all that they were able to limp assisted down the touchline and back into the dressing-rooms after the match. While Pep Guardiola suggested that the Belgian will definitely miss Tuesday’s game against Watford – adding that Gabriel Jesus will be out for at least a month with a knee injury he sustained in the same game – Palace now fear being without their own midfielder – a fringe player in recent weeks – for the remainder of the campaign.
Palace had intended to pursue a goalkeeper, midfielder and centre-forward – their England Under-21s forward, Connor Wickham, has not played since November 2016 after suffering his own cruciate knee ligament injury and remains some way off full fitness – during the mid-winter transfer window but may now reassess their strategy in the wake of the injuries, particularly at the back.
Mamadou Sakho and Joel Ward are both absent at present recovering from calf injuries, leaving Martin Kelly and James Tomkins at centre-half for Tuesday’s game at Southampton, with the veteran Damien Delaney in reserve. The young Manchester United loanee, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, and the former Ajax utility player, Jairo Riedewald, could provide cover at centre-half if required.
Puncheon, 31, is due to appear before Guildford Magistrates’ court on 5 January after being charged with a Section 4 public order offence – causing fear or provocation of violence, possession of an offensive weapon and common assault – after an alleged incident in Reigate, Surrey, in the small hours of 17 December.