Patrick Vieira urges Eberechi Eze to take key Crystal Palace chance amid Africa Cup of Nations absences

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  • Crystal Palace
    Crystal Palace
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  • Patrick Vieira
    French association football manager and former player
  • Eberechi Eze
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  • Jordan Ayew
    Jordan Ayew
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  • Wilfried Zaha
    Wilfried Zaha
    Ivorian association football player (born 1992)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Patrick Vieira has challenged Eberechi Eze to take his chance to re-establish himself at Crystal Palace following injury.

The attacking midfielder was a revelation in his first season at the club last term before suffering an Achilles rupture in the final weeks of the campaign.

Eze has been slowly reintroduced following his recovery with just two Premier League appearances from the bench so far this season.

Competition for his place increased over the summer with the arrival of Michael Olise, while Jordan Ayew has impressed under Vieira.

However, with Ayew, Wilfried Zaha and Cheikhou Kouyate now away at the Africa Cup of Nations, there is an opening for Eze to step up, starting at Millwall on Saturday in the FA Cup.

"He is in a good place," said Vieira. "What he's missing a little bit is game time. I did not have the chance to put him on the field more often but with the three players going to AFCON, I will have a chance to use him a little bit more.

"He is waiting and he is in a good place mentally. When the chance comes, he will have to take it."

Eze has had to bide his time in terms of a return but Vieira says what the former QPR star now needs is regular football.

The Palace boss said: “The competition will give him more time. Having those three players at AFCON will give some of the players that did not play a lot some more time.

“That’s what he needs. He needs to be on the field, he needs to play games to get to his best and he will have that opportunity.

"He is waiting and he is working well and working hard. Of course he wants to play, it is normal. Seeing a player who wants to get on the field and express their talent is something that I want to see.

"Of course he is finding it really difficult because he feels ready to be on the field and to play but at the same time he needs to understand that he has been out for quite a while and it will take time for him to get back to his best. Now we are in a position where it will allow me to give him more time."

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