Patrick Vieira could be boosted by the return of Joel Ward as Crystal Palace take on Everton in the FA Cup on Sunday.
The Eagles will meet Frank Lampard’s side in the lunchtime kick-off for a place in the semi-finals at Wembley.
Ward hasn’t played for Palace since the goalless draw with Brentford on 12 February. In the 32-year-old’s absence, Nathaniel Clyne has started the last five Premier League matches, along with the fifth round FA Cup tie against Stoke City earlier this month.
London World journalist Rahman Osman relayed an update on Ward via Twitter on Friday afternoon.
Ahead of today’s clash against Everton, the journalist simply posted: “Joel Ward is back training with the team”.
Before Ward picked up his injury, he was virtually ever-present in the Palace starting XI and Clyne could barely get a look-in. Indeed, the 32-year-old has started every Premier League game for which he was available.
The £35,000-per-week defender has donned the captain’s armband on six occasions this season, illustrating just how much Vieira values him. Indeed, the Frenchman has called Ward ‘one of the warriors’ and raved about his ‘work ethic’ (via London News Online).
Also, as per WhoScored, the no-nonsense defender has averaged 1.8 tackles and 3.3 clearances per game in 2021/22, ranking him among the Eagles’ top performers for both metrics, so his return to action will come as a tremendous boost.
Will he be able to dislodge Clyne immediately, though?
The former Liverpool man has averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.8/10 in his appearances this season, edging Ward (6.69/10), and Vieira may be inclined to stick with the back four which commendably shut out reigning champions Manchester City on Monday night.
In other news, Palace are keen on this Bundesliga hitman
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