It’s been well over a year since we saw Connor Wickham pull on a Crystal Palace shirt but over the last week or so, Eagles supporters have been treated to the sight of the striker back in training.
Having badly damaged his ligaments when collapsing to the turf at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, the former Sunderland man was forced to endure a ridiculously long period of rehabilitative work before being told he could tentatively begin making strides towards a comeback a few months ago.
Sadly, due to his desperation to get back and help the team, Connor pushed himself too far too soon and suffered a setback in his recovery as a direct result of the step up in physical work, which led to yet more time on the sidelines. It was something that Roy Hodgson spoke about with a mixture of sympathy and frustration in a recent press conference, admitting that Wickham had tested the patience of the club’s medical staff after pushing his body too hard after all the work that had been done.
Thankfully, he now appears to have undertaken a second, tweaked version of his rehabilitation plan and is now being allowed to train with the club’s U23s in a bid to build-up fitness in anticipation of his long-awaited return to first-team action. With only Christian Benteke and Alexander Sørloth still the only fit out-and-out strikers on our books, Connor’s reappearance on the scene can’t come soon enough but as always, we as supporters must remain patient.
We shouldn’t underestimate the feelings of frustration Wickham himself will have been feeling in recent months, watching on from afar as the team struggles whilst being unable to offer any tangible help to us on the field. Plenty of neutrals believe that footballers are happy to pick up their money and sit back without a care in the world but I’m sure Connor has felt the mental strain just as much as the physical one throughout his time on the sidelines.
Hopefully there is now a shining light at the end of the tunnel for him in the shape of a first-team return, it’s the least he deserves after the turmoil he’s endured over the last 12 months.