Roy Hodgson will reunite James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho at the heart of Crystal Palace’s defence for the first time since February.
Injuries to both in the second half of last season — combined with Palace’s good form at the back following the arrival of Gary Cahill from Chelsea — has seen the two kept apart in the starting line-up until now.
With Cahill still not fit to return following an ankle problem and with Scott Dann having undergone a scan following a knock at Burnley on Saturday, Hodgson is left with just Tomkins and Sakho to call on in central defence.
Tomkins has featured alongside Cahill this season, but Sakho is yet to start a Premier League game having suffered a setback in his recovery from a knee injury during pre-season.
The former Liverpool defender did well off the bench in the 2-0 win at Burnley on Saturday and featured for the Under-23s last week. Hodgson has no doubt about his fitness ahead of the festive period.
At their prime as a partnership, Tomkins and Sakho started 13 games together for Palace, who did not lose in that run.
Hodgson is waiting for news on the damage to Dann, who was wearing a protective boot and walking with crutches on Monday.
Hodgson said: “We don’t know if there is ligament damage yet. Every time a player gets that kind of kick on the ankle and goes down you don’t know quite how he has fallen but I think we’ve got reason to be hopeful.
“He is certainly hopeful that it won’t be that bad but I won’t know until Wednesday or Thursday because the ankle is quite swollen.”
Palace have seen their resources stretched at the back recently, with Martin Kelly needed as cover for Joel Ward at right-back until the new year.
Patrick van Aanholt, the only senior left-back in the Palace squad, has played every League minute so far this season, but Hodgson has no concerns with him.
The manager explained: “This is an area which I don’t really subscribe to. I’m from a time when football was played and there was no question of people discussing strain or pressure.”
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