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Burnley fell to a 1-0 defeat today at Crystal Palace with a goal midway through the first half from Bakary Sako and his manager Roy Hodgson had plenty to say about him after the game.

Hodgson said: “Before this season he spent a lot of time on the bench and I don’t quite know how many chances he’s had, but he’s obviously not done well enough in them to force himself into the team, but he had done very well recently for us.

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“He would have played at any rate today because of the rate of injuries we’ve had, but in fact he was certainly in the team on merit due to his last performances. It is very good that he could chip in with another good goal and I thought his first half performance was very good. In the second, he and Benteke worked very hard to disturb their centre halves and limit the number of long balls that were flying into our back four.”

Hodgson didn’t make any changes during the game. He explained, regarding one of those named as a substitute: “We had Yohan Cabaye on the bench but he wasn’t there yesterday. This morning he went in and we had the results of the MRI scan that showed that nothing was damaged and it was just muscle fatigue, and we persuaded him to be on the bench in case we needed him.

“In honest, I would have only put him on the field if it was absolutely necessary because of the fatigue that kept him out of training for a few days. The players that were previously substitutes breathing down players necks were starting the game.”

Palace have moved up to 11th place in the table, their highest position all season. “I have no desire in January to celebrate being in 11th place,” he said. “The only thing that interests me is where we are on the final day, and being one place above the relegation zone. Anything else would be a huge bonus, especially having seven games, seven defeats and no goals.

“It’s nice now that things are no longer looking so bleak, and we should enjoy that, but there will be lots more games like today where you do enough to merit the three points, and then suffer in the second half because a one goal lead can always be cancelled out.”

Sean Dyche admitted that our first half performance was nowhere near good enough but he thought we did improve after the break. Speaking after the game, he said: “We know we haven’t got as many points on the board in the last six games, but performances have been good and today I was happy, particularly in the second half.

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“In saying that we shifted a long way as a club and in that second half we were on the front foot and going for the win. It hasn’t always been like that for us in the Premier League and, at times last season, there were times when you felt it wasn’t going to be our day very early.

“It’s not like that now. There’s a belief system now among the players and I was so pleased to see us going after Palace in the second half. That’s a good sign of how we’ve progressed this season.

“There’s no doubt they were the better side in the first half. They play a simple format, a sort of 4-4-2 and get the ball forward quickly, and we didn’t play with that edge, as if we were waiting for someone else to make it happen, but we addressed that at half time and I was very pleased with the reaction. We caused enough problems to overall get a draw, which would have been a fair result, in my opinion.

“The immediate picture is we haven’t won now in six games, but before that we won three out of four and should have got something from the other. If you mix all that together, the season is certainly in front of the curve. You have to remember who you are and we are still Burnley Football Club; not giants of this division.

“We’re moving things forwards bits at a time and we’ve had a tough spell over Christmas, but those margins are so, so tight. Earlier in the season we were coming out on top in them and at the minute we’re not. There doesn’t look much wrong. We’ve just got to get on the right side of the margins.”

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