Crystal Palace’s under-23s picked up a good win yesterday, defeating Charlton Athletic 3-2. The result moved Palace closer to winning their respective under-23 league and it was also good to see a returning first-team player on the scoresheet, as this Instagram post showed:
Palace striker Connor Wickham is clearly closing in on a return to first-team action. The 24-year-old has not played since November 2016, when he suffered a sickening looking injury in the 5-4 loss to Swansea City.
The striker had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and his recovery has taken longer than first expected. But it seems Wickham might be able to play a part in Palace’s final fight for Premier League survival. For Palace, they might not have a better option available to them.
Wickham has experience of such a fight. The striker was something of a forgotten man at Sunderland back in 2014. However, with Sunderland staring relegation in the face, Gustavo Poyet threw Wickham into the Sunderland set-up after an unsuccessful loan spell at Leeds United.
It proved an inspired decision. Wickham was fantastic toward the end of the season. Two goals against Manchester City earned Sunderland a valuable draw. A goal at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea earned a rare home reverse against the Blues. He then bagged a double versus relegation rivals Cardiff City as Sunderland survived.
Palace are currently 16th in the Premier League table but the two teams below them, West Ham and Southampton, have a game in hand. With just seven games remaining the Eagles are set to be in a fight for survival until the final kick of a ball this season.
Wickham will undoubtedly hope to play a part in those final games of the campaign. If he does Palace fans will hope that Wickham can find the form he discovered in 2014 that inspired Sunderland to what had looked an unlikely survival.