Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has said Eberechi Eze is on “the cusp” of a return to the first XI as he prepares to be without Joel Ward, his club captain.
Ward went off injured soon after the 30-minute mark of a 2-2 draw against Manchester City on Saturday and will have to be replaced for Thursday’s home Premier League clash against Brighton.
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“Joel Ward, as I think everyone knows, picked up an injury, unfortunately, last weekend,” Hodgson told a pre-match press conference on Wednesday.
“He’s had a scan, so we will be missing him for a while. So that is a new injury concern.”
Teenager David Ozoh starred off the bench and the 18-year-old could continue in the team, while Eze, on in the 89th minute against City following a three-week absence, is pressing for a return to the starting side.
“The ones who have been injured are making good progress,” said Hodgson.
“Ebere Eze is coming on very well. He is on the cusp, really, and it’s a decision we will have to make over the course of the next few hours (on Wednesday).
“We have had a real (fitness) boost over the last couple of weeks with the emergence of a couple of younger players.”
The former England manager added: “When given the chance to get on the field, which has happened with the amount of injuries, they have also given us great hope and belief that the future is going to be bright for the club and the team.
“But of course, the immediate future is most concerning and tomorrow night we want to get back to winning ways if we can.”
Palace have not won since November 4, taking just two points from a possible 18.
But goalkeeper Dean Henderson was glad to have played his part in securing a point against Premier League champions City with several saves.
Now the 26-year-old is looking forward to making his home debut at Selhurst Park.
“It’s been a long year for me, so I’m just delighted to put on the Palace colours. Thanks to all the fans for supporting me,” Henderson told the club’s website.
“There’s one place to get sharp and that’s in the Etihad goalmouth! It’s nice to get a few saves in there. Now we’re at home. We’ve got to attack the game and have a right go at them (Brighton).”