Crystal Palace’s official twitter feed brought great news for all of our fans this afternoon, by putting up pictures of both Connor Wickham and Joel Ward taking part in full training with the squad at Beckenham.
Both players have been absent from first-team duty since our victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but after positive comments regarding their general fitness from boss Alan Pardew last Thursday, there seems to be a good chance of both being involved for this weekend’s trip to face Leicester City.
In Wickham’s case, his return to action will serve as a serious relief to the Palace coaching staff, given Dwight Gayle’s recent suspension, Patrick Bamford’s struggles, Chamakh’s continued injury woes and Fraizer Campbell being, well, Fraizer Campbell.
Offering us a huge physical presence in the final third, Wickham could hold the key to a victory or at the very least a draw against Ranieri’s men, such was the impact he made against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge back in August. There is never really a particularly easy way to measure the difference a strong hold-up man has on the general fortunes of a side like ours, but as a focal point for any of our attacks, his game is invaluable.
Defensively, Joel Ward’s return would certainly add a degree of balance to the side again after a prolonged run in the team for Martin Kelly. Whilst the former Liverpool man certainly has the pedigree associated with a Premier League regular, his game hasn’t shown itself to be good enough to command a regular place in Alan Pardew’s starting XI over that of the former Pompey right-back.
No one can be sure how this weekend’s game in the Midlands is set to pan out, particularly when you consider the stunning run of form the Foxes have been on of late, but there is little doubt in the minds of most Palace fans that the return of both Wickham and Ward will benefit us hugely in the search for three more points.