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Crystal Palace keep tabs on 22-year-old rising talent – Would this be useful for Hodgson?

Why Crystal Palace should make a move for Martin Erlic

According to Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football.London), Crystal Palace are keeping tabs on Spezia’s Martin Erlic as they weigh up a potential summer swoop for the defender.

Martin Erlic, 22, played for a number of youth teams, including Dinamo Zagreb, Rijeka and Parma, before finally landing at Sassuolo. He then went on loan to Sudtirol and Spezia, before signing for the latter on a permanent basis last summer.

Martin Erlic of AC Spezia competes for the ball with Luca Strizzolo of Pordenone during the Serie B match between AC Spezia and Pordenone Calcio at Stadio Alberto Picco on February 1, 2020 in La Spezia, Italy. (Getty Images)
Martin Erlic of AC Spezia competes for the ball with Luca Strizzolo of Pordenone during the Serie B match between AC Spezia and Pordenone Calcio at Stadio Alberto Picco on February 1, 2020 in La Spezia, Italy. (Getty Images)

The Croat has been a regular for Spezia in the Serie B this season, after playing 30 times for Sudtirol during his first loan. He has made 14 appearances so far and had established himself as a regular in recent weeks, prior to the suspension of football in Italy due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Crystal Palace and fellow Premier League side Southampton have been impressed with Erlic’s performances in Serie B, the report adds. (h/t Football.London)

Speaking about Palace, they have had a mixed 2019/20 season. They started off well and found themselves in the top six for the first few months before drifting away. The Eagles are currently 11th in the table and had picked up some momentum of late by winning three consecutive games.

Yet, there’s a lot to improve if Palace are to challenge for a top-four finish next term. Roy Hodgson’s side have struggled for goals, with Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend largely underperforming this term.

Crystal Palace players celebrate after scoring. (Getty Images)
Crystal Palace players celebrate after scoring. (Getty Images)

Jordan Ayew has been the rare bright spark in the attack, while Wilfried Zaha has blown hot and cold throughout the majority of the campaign. In reality, a lack of quality and depth in the forward department has been the main cause for the Eagles’ inconsistency.

At the same time, they have lacked depth in central defence. Gary Cahill, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho, Scott Dann and Martin Kelly are the only options Hodgson has at his disposal. Cahill and Tomkins have been a regular at the back and Dann has been a backup to them.

However, Sakho has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons and has played just eight league games this term.

Palace’s current squad is built around experienced professionals who Hodgson can rely on, but they will likely need to add young blood to the group to keep things fresh. That being said, the South Londoners must plot a summer swoop for Martin Erlic.

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson. (Getty Images)
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson. (Getty Images)

Erlic has been playing in Italy since 2017. The defender has gained decent experience, although he is yet to play at the highest level in that country. He has also been capped 25 times by Croatia from U17 all the way through to U21 level, but is yet to make a senior bow for his nation.

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The Croat is only 22 and has a lot of room for improvement. Erlic has caught Palace’s eye with his performances and he could learn from the current crop of experienced defenders Hodgson has at his disposal.

Verdict

Palace signing Erlic would be the acquisition of a talented prospect who could go on to have an immediate impact for Hodgson’s side, while also developing over the years.

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