Sam Allardyce has backed Mamadou Sakho to deal with a potentially serious knee injury and admits he remains hopeful the defender could even play for Crystal Palace again this season.
The Liverpool loanee was taken off on a stretcher during Palace’s 1-0 defeat to Tottenham on Wednesday night having twisted his knee.
There was a lengthy delay as the France international made way, with initial concerns that he had suffered ligament damage.
Allardyce could not confirm any news on the injury as they await a scan to determine the severity of the problem but he believes Sakho, who has played a big part in turning the Eagles’ season around, can get over any hurdle.
Asked if Sakho had a strong enough character to deal with the setback, the Palace boss replied: “Oh yes. There is no doubt about that.
“But you can’t help being depressed when you are in that position. When you have been playing so well and enjoying your football, then all of a sudden it is knocked back by an injury.
“That is why football in terms of what you do, you should realise that any minute something can hurt your career.
“You obviously hope it doesn’t but at any minute it can so that is why they should dedicate themselves and enjoy themselves every minute that they can because you never know what is around the corner when you are playing such a competitive game.”
Sakho joined Palace on loan during the January transfer window having been frozen out of the first-team picture at Anfield.
He helped Allardyce transform a porous defence into one which held firm to seal memorable wins over Chelsea and Arsenal, although he was ineligible for last weekend’s win at Liverpool which saw Palace take a huge step towards Premier League survival.
“He was enjoying his football so much after such a period in isolation this season,” Allardyce added.
“He was really making such a big influence on the players in the dressing room as well as his performances on the field.
“Obviously for me it just shows how much he loves his football. Every footballer that gets injured falls into depression and is really upset.”
Allardyce confirmed the scan would take place under Palace’s watch although with communication channels open with Sakho’s parent club as he keeps his fingers crossed he could call on the 27-year-old again before the season is out.
“It depends on the swelling and the state of the knee, whether the specialist says it needs to calm down a bit before we get a true reading but obviously it is not something we are going to rush,” he said when asked when Sakho will have his scan.
“It will be done here and we will obviously keep in contact with Liverpool. I’d like to think it is not serious and he will get back before the end of the season but I’m not sure.”
Allardyce is already without fellow centre-backs James Tomkins and Scott Dann who are sidelined with their own serious injuries.
But the former England boss refused to label his defensive issues as a “crisis” after backing the players he has at his disposal to do a job, starting against Burnley on Saturday.
“Under normal circumstances it would have been a crisis at this club and most clubs I have been at I would have been playing full-backs or midfielders at centre-half,” he said.
“But we have Martin Kelly and Damien Delaney to fill those slots. They have played together a lot and have a lot of experience, Kelly is playing in a position where he prefers.
“We hope they continue to do the job they have been with the protection from midfield. We can’t afford another injury at centre-half between now and the end of the season.”