Connor Wickham has suffered a setback in his pursuit of match fitness – worsening Crystal Palace’s striker crisis ahead of Sunday’s fixture at Chelsea.
Christian Benteke’s absence with a knee injury and Alexander Sorloth’s unconvincing performances have left Palace struggling in the final third, where Jordan Ayew, Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha have combined in an unorthodox front three.
The lack of a recognised, in-form striker also meant it took until last week for Roy Hodgson’s team to score their first goals of the season at Selhurst Park, giving Wickham’s potential availability increasing importance.
He has missed the past two years, having seriously injured his anterior cruciate ligaments, but a thigh strain suffered when he had been in contention to play at Middlesbrough on Wednesday instead means the 25-year-old and Palace will continue to miss out.
“Connor Wickham has picked up a new thigh strain, which stopped him from taking part on Wednesday evening,” said Hodgson. “He will be out now for a further period of time, which is a shame and a disappointment because he had been training for a while with us on a regular basis.
“We were harbouring the notion that he may now be fit enough to take part, but that is not the case and he isn’t.
“Christian Benteke is making good progress and continuing his programme of rehabilitation and Joel Ward is still recovering from his thigh strain.”
Ayew and Zaha are therefore expected to again start at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, when Hodgson will regardless again have James McArthur, Zaha and Cheikhou Kouyate available following knocks.