Thirteen months have gone by since Connor Wickham turned out in a red and blue shirt but yesterday afternoon, Palace fans were treated to a sight of the striker taking part in a full training session.
Connor in training today! pic.twitter.com/z5Iak5nQLq
— E-Crystal Palace (@e_crystalpalace) December 19, 2017
Whilst the former Sunderland man is unlikely to play any part in this Saturday’s trip to face Swansea, (ironically the venue at which he sustained his injury last season) his presence amongst the first-team squad will undoubtedly provide a huge moral boost to the rest of his teammates.
With Christian Benteke banned for the clash against Paul Clement’s men after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Leicester City on Saturday, the smart money appears to be pointing towards Bakary Sako being given a start at the head of the side, meaning he’ll have the chance to score his third goal in as many games as he bids to help Roy Hodgson stretch our unbeaten run to an unprecedented eight matches.
You would assume that we will still be actively at least one if not two strikers over the course of the January transfer window but even so, the potentially imminent return of Wickham will be an extremely pleasing sight for the coaching staff. Despite a somewhat patchy reputation in the minds of neutral fans, most of a red and blue persuasion would agree that Connor has genuine potential, leading me to believe that a prolonged spell under Hodgson’s guidance could see him reaching heights he never has before.
Still just 24, the 6’2 frontman has plenty of time on his side and, although an injury of such severity provokes all sorts of worries about a player’s long-term fitness, you can be sure that he’s desperate to repay the faith and patience the club have shown him in the 13 months he’s spent rehabilitating.
I really was starting to wonder if we’d ever see him kick a ball again, making the picture attached at the top of the page all the more heartwarming. Let’s hope it’s not too long until we see him back out on the pitch keeping Christian Benteke on his toes.