Crystal Palace of England new signing, Eberechi Eze looks good to get his first start with the club he joined late last month from Queens Park Rangers, as the Nigerian-born youngster has been tipped for the first eleven of his side in Tuesday’s League Cup clash with Bournemouth.
Megasportsarena.com reports that, after stepping off The Eagles’ bench against the expectations of all pundits last Saturday, as he had been declared an injury doubt for the English Premier League opener versus Southampton, Eze is now on course for a starting role this Tuesday against The Cherries.
So much was offered in an explanation by Palace’s coach, Roy Hodgson, while throwing light on why the dreadlocks-wearing youngster and England under-21 invitee was not in his starting list for Saturday’s opener, and only got his EPL debut as a second-half substitute for Jeffrey Schlupp.
Hodgson admitted that there were concerns about the fitness level of the 22-year-old Eze, hence the decision to see the youngster begin life at Palace as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Southampton, with the rookie going on as a 79th-minute replacement for Ghana’s Schlupp.
The 22-year-old had to settle for a spot on the bench on Saturday after he only returned to team training on Friday, following a groin injury at the start of this week and, despite the dazzler’s recent fitness issues, Hodgson trusted the playmaker to make his first EPL appearance with 11 minutes left at Selhurst Park.
The enterprising lad went on to show some flashes of brilliance that set hope alive anew among the Selhurst Park faithful, even as Palace began the campaign on a winning note with Wilfried Zaha’s 13th-minute strike, after which Hodgson said he is not in a hurry to throw Eze into action.
It was only a short cameo and yet the former QPR attacking midfielder provided a glimpse of why the club parted with £16m for his services and now he could be in line for his full debut away to Bournemouth on Tuesday, if Hodgson’s words are anything to go by.
The ex-Liverpool and Fulham boss also touched on his plans for his side’s visit to Bournemouth in Tuesday’s English League Cup fixture at Vitality Stadium, after which he also hinted that Eze could be handed a position in Palace’s starting eleven when they confront Odion Jude Ighalo’s Manchester United in their next EPL outing this Saturday.
Hodgson expatiated: “It was mainly because he has had so little game time. He came to us not having played in matches for Queens Park Rangers – not having done the level of fitness work we or he would’ve liked because of course he was in the middle of transfer negotiations.
“He came to us and did one session and then played from the start in a game on the Saturday but got injured. He should’ve been going away with England but the injury meant he couldn’t do that. We then had to wait until the start of this week to see him in some sort of training again.
“I knew this was going to be a very physical and tough game, therefore, I thought the best thing to do for the team and the club was to have him in reserve. And I think it worked out quite well, because in that last 15 minutes … I was able to put him on. Even in that 15 minutes he was able to showcase the qualities he possesses.”