It has been a long, challenging wait – but the wait is now over. Crystal Palace fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Eberechi Eze, arguably the most exciting footballer at the club, is back from a long injury lay-off. Crocked just as the UEFA Euro 2020 squads were being formed, Palace fans watched through their fingers as the South London club struggled to see out the Roy Hodgson era. Without Eze, things were simply not as fun.
The player suffered a shocking achilles injury, ruling him out for the best part of six months. While Palace have started the season well, Patrick Vieira has had to build an attack without his most effervescent creaetive player. While Wilf Zaha will always be the Palace protagonist, Eze is the next in line. A creative goal scorer with incredible feet and vision, there is absolutely nothing stopping him from becoming a senior international for England.
A tremendous player, he managed over an hour in his comeback game for the Palace U23 side. They took on Blackburn and while they lost, Eze himself was impressive for a player who had missed so much game time with his injury. Now 23 years of age, it is expected that this winter will be the time where Palace fans finally get to see a consistent, fresh, recovered Eze.
Given he cost the best part of £16m, fans were worried about overpaying for a player with only English Championship experience. However, the midfield was quick to prove doubters wrong and by the time of his injury was one of the most important players in the side.
While new signing Michael Olise has done a fine job of filling in, the return of Eze can only be a positive for Palace as the winter gauntlet begins.
When will Eze return to the first team?
However, while it great news he is back and playing for the U23s, it might not be an immediate first team return. Vieira and co. are believed to be cautious about his return date, likely giving the player regular game time in the U23s beforehand. Once he is fit enough for 90 minutes in the U23s, we might see Eze appearing around the first team picture.
Palace, though, could use him sooner rather than later. Though the Eagles have impressed under Vieira so far, there is an obvious limit to what the team can do with the players who are fit. As such, we might expect to see Eze return once form dips – it all depends on how a busy November plays out for the club.
An international break coming up also means that Eze can easily get his time to recover and find some more fitness. His conditioning has always been impressive, but the long-term nature of the injury and the ease of which an achilles injury can reoccur means that time will have to be taken.
However, once fully fit again, Palace fans can look forward to having one of the most gallous dribblers in the Premier League once again.