Despite finding himself out of Crystal Palace’s starting XI for the first time in a few years, club captain Jason Puncheon is determined to do everything he can to help the team fight their way up the Premier League table.
Ever since the Eagles returned to the Premier League in 2013, Jason Puncheon has felt like an immovable presence. Having played a part in every top flight victory until our recent triumph over defending champions Chelsea, it had become difficult to imagine a starting line-up without him but under the guidance of Roy Hodgson, “Punch” is having to make do with a place on the substitutes’ bench.
Thanks to strength in depth we possess in the centre of midfield, the former England gaffer has decided to opt for a trio of Yohan Cabaye, Luka Milivojevic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek when possible, leaving Puncheon with little choice other than to bide his time and wait for another opportunity to prove himself. No doubt a difficult task for a man who thrives on being the leader of the pack, he deserves real credit for adapting to the change with a positive mental attitude.
Whilst Jason has built up a great deal of brownie points with the Palace faithful as a consequence of the passion he’s shown for the collective cause, few would still argue that he’s deserving of a place in the team’s starting XI. Strangely, that reversal of opinion has been provoked by nothing more than a dramatic loss in form from the man himself, who, following his FA Cup Final goal against Manchester United, appears to have fallen off a cliff confidence-wise.
Quite how he or indeed we as a club go about restoring him to his former cocksure self is up for debate as things stand. Clearly, it’s not a case of embedding him within the side and asking him to lead by example but with the technical quality we now have in his exact position, it’s difficult to envisage a scenario in which he wins back a starting berth without doing something spectacular when making an appearance from the bench.
The stage is set ahead of Stoke, let’s hope “Punch” delivers a knockout blow to the Potters late on if needed.