Mamadou Sakho makes first Crystal Palace start for five months as he steps up comeback in pre-season draw against Wimbledon
- Mamadou Sakho played 60 minutes of Crystal Palace’s clash with Wimbledon
- Dominant defender is key player for Eagles and returning to full fitness
- He said: ‘When I did my meniscus, all the physios and the doctors did a great job’
Mamadou Sakho had reason to be cheerful after making his first Crystal Palace start for five months – and he is now plotting a return to first-team action.
The defender featured in the starting XI as Palace played out a 2-2 draw with Wimbledon on Tuesday evening, playing 60 minutes before heading off.
And he hailed those who allowed him to reach this point after failing to start a game since February due to a knee injury.
Mamadou Sakho battled the rain as he made his first start for five months against Wimbledon
He said: ‘I feel good, I’m happy. After five months, a few days ago I played 20 minutes and now 60.
‘I’m working hard to comeback as soon as possible to give everything I can for my squad.
‘When I did my meniscus, all the physios and the doctors did a great job. They gave me a new meniscus because they didn’t remove anything.
‘They repaired it 100 per cent so I’m really happy about that. I worked really hard even during the holidays. I was in Dubai and I was working there and in Miami.’
A last-gasp Tommy Wood strike earned Wimbledon a 2-2 draw. A brace from 17-year-old Brandon Pierrick gave Palace the lead twice but it wasn’t enough to get over the line in the end.
Sakho thanked the medical staff and doctors in helping him with his rehabilitation
The Eagles will be disappointed in what was a lacklustre performance in an end-to-end affair.
The match featured a Crystal Palace Under 23 side, with little resemblance to the squad that will likely be picked for their Premier League opener against Everton next weekend.
The side was completely unrecognisable compared to their 5-0 win against Bristol City last Saturday, with the maximum eleven changes made.
This was further demonstrated by manager Roy Hodgson sitting in the stands, with No 2 Ray Lewington on the touchline.
A surprise inclusion in the side was striker Connor Wickham, who was involved in a London nightclub scuffle on Sunday night.
The Eagles began the match on the front foot and nearly opened the scoring in the first 10 minutes when 19-year-old striker James Daly burst into the box with a mazy run and lashed his shot wide of the post.
Palace got their first goal in the 34th minute when a Wickham header fell into the path of Brandon Pierrick, who neatly rolled the ball into the corner of the net.
Connor Wickham was in a nightclub scuffle on Sunday but still played on Tuesday
The Dons had their chances in the first half, including a Paul Osew shot from outside the box which flew just inches over the bar.
The home side grew in confidence as the match went on and in the second half, they should’ve levelled when midfielder Jack Rudoni’s drop of the shoulder move gave space for a shot but he couldn’t manage to find the net.
After mounting pressure, they eventually snatched a well-deserved equaliser when midfielder Shane McLoughlin whipped in a cross which was met by a thumping header by Finlay Macnab into the roof of the net.
Late in the second half, 17-year-old Pierrick picked up the ball from 20 yards and smashed the ball into the back of the net. The teenager was by far the standout performer in a disappointing Palace performance.
Then Wood equalised in the last minute to give the hosts a draw.
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