Benteke injury creates need for strikers at Crystal Palace
FootyOn look at potential free agent strikers for Crystal Palace following Christian Benteke’s injury.
With Belgium frontman Benteke set to miss at least six weeks with a knee ligament damage, Roy Hodgson’s Eagles are without a fit senior centre forward.
This is because Connor Wickham is out with a similar injury and Ivory Coast attacker Wilfried Zaha likewise.
The prospect of Palace signing a free agent has been mooted in the London press as a result.
Hodgson is 11/10 with BetVictor to keep the Eagles up despite their goalless, pointless start to the Premier League season.
In light of their shortage up front, here are five free agent strikers for Crystal Palace to consider…
Former Southampton centre forward Rickie Lambert may be 35, but Hodgson gave him all 11 of his England caps.
He scored three goals in his international career, while his Premier League stats saw him average a goal every four games.
Prolific for the Saints when rising through the divisions with them, Lambert then found life at Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion more of a struggle.
He netted just three times in the league while at Anfield and The Hawthorns in total, meaning 28 of his 31 top-flight goals came in his prime at Southampton.
Age and fitness are against Lambert after being released by current Championship promotion and title contenders Cardiff City this summer, but the Eagles are desperate for somebody up top.
It’s hard to believe ex-Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi is now 30, having started his senior career at Manchester United.
Prolific for Villarreal until the first of several knee injuries plagued his career, Fiorentina released the New Jersey-born frontman this past summer following loan spells with Levante and Celta Vigo back in La Liga.
Granted better luck on the fitness front, Rossi would certainly add something to Palace’s ranks, but it would be a huge risk if they do so.
He has missed more than 125 games since October 2011 due to his knee problems and the Eagles already have Benteke, Wickham and Zaha with those.
A marquee signing like Rossi could lift Palace, but how long would it be before he was back to his guaranteed 15 goals per season-plus best?
Nottingham born former Republic of Ireland frontman Leon Best was let go by Ipswich Town this past summer.
Injuries interrupted his last Premier League stint with Newcastle United, but he showed himself capable of scoring at that level.
Now 31, Best netted 10 in 29 top-flight appearances for the Magpies in 2010/11 and 2011/12.
Since leaving St James’ Park for Blackburn Rovers for a reported £3,000,000, however, he has scored just 10 times in the league.
Best sustained a serious knee injury while at Ewood Park and has yet to rediscover his previous confident touch in front of goal.
It’s been 11 years since ex-South Africa striker Katlego Mphela played outside his homeland.
On intentional duty, he notably raised his game when the Rainbow nation played Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup on home soil.
Mphela scored twice and a year later help to heap misery on France during their disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa with the winner.
You might say this is all ancient history, but a Palace switch for Mphela is so left-field it might just work.
One of the 13 South Africans to have played in the Premier League, Kagisho Dikgacoi, turned out for the Eagles.
And finally among free agent strikers for Crystal Palace, Carlton Cole is available after a spell out in Indonesia.
He cannot be called a prolific frontman with just 51 goals in 290 Premier League games, but again the Eagles’ need is dire.
Cole has spent most of playing career in London after coming through the ranks at Chelsea and then spending nine years with West Ham United.
Like Palace boss Hodgson, Cole is a local lad born in Croydon, so has that in his favour.
Although he turns 34 in October, Cole could be the Eagles’ most likely free transfer as a result.
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