Crystal Palace boosted by midfielder’s return for Chelsea match

Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate will be available for tomorrow’s home game against Chelsea after reporting back to first-team training following his Africa Cup of Nations win with Senegal.

The 32-year-old, who last featured for the Eagles in the 3-0 home win against Norwich City on December 28, played 66 minutes in his country’s final victory against Egypt.

Palace have reportedly opened talks with Kouyate about a new deal. The Athletic claim that the Eagles would like to tie the midfielder down to a 12-month extension amid interest from clubs in Saudi Arabia.

Kouyate has featured regularly under Patrick Vieira and has played more than 100 times for the club since his move from West Ham United in 2018.

While Kouyate has returned to first-team contention, Vieira will be without loanee Conor Gallagher against the newly-crowned Club World Cup champions as he is ineligible to play against his parent club.

Gallagher is expected to return to the Blues at the end of his season-long loan spell in SE25 and battle for a place in Thomas Tuchel’s first team.

Palace are also reportedly facing a battle to convince Wilfried Zaha to sign a new contract. The Ivory Coast international’s deal expires at the end of next season.

The Daily Mail have claimed that Zaha, who made his Palace debut in 2010 after he graduated through the club’s academy, is not planning to extend his stay.

He signed a five-year deal in 2018 to establish himself as Palace’s highest earner.

Luke Plange, who is back on loan at Derby after joining Palace on transfer deadline day, played 90 minutes in their 4-1 loss to Middlesbrough last Saturday.

Rob Street, on loan at Newport County, played a single minute in their 3-3 draw with Oldham.

Palace are set to finalise next season’s pre-season friendlies to play Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in Singapore and then fly to Australia to take on Manchester United.





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