Crystal Palace boss laments lack of first-team squads for pre-season tour

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

The Eagles will face Liverpool, Manchester United and Leeds United in Singapore and Australia next week, but their 26-man traveling squad includes just 11 senior players and is largely made up of youngsters from the club’s academy.

Vieira said he hopes the experience will help develop the young players in his team.

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

Speaking ahead of Friday’s game against Liverpool at the National Stadium in Singapore, Vieira said his side 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 ready to play against Liverpool tomorrow and that is part of the process that we had to go through.”

The Palace boss said some players had to stay in London to ‘catch up with training’ or to play training matches.

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

The former France international said some of the squad’s young players had “traveled this far for the very first time”.

“The way they are going to deal with the jet lag, the flights and the challenges we will face in the next games will help us learn a lot about them.”

Palace captain Luka Milivojevic has insisted he and his team-mates are taking the challenge on their heels as they prepare for the start of the new campaign next month.

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

After their game against Liverpool, the traveling team will face Manchester United in Melbourne next week and Leeds in Perth on July 22.

The London-based players play matches against Ipswich Town, Gillingham and Queens Park Rangers before joining the rest of the squad to play a friendly against French side Montpellier at Selhurst Park on July 30, a week before the start of the season.

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