BY ANDREW McSTEEN
Crystal Palace academy graduate Nathaniel Clyne is set to rejoin the Eagles after coming through 45 minutes of U23 action as a trialist against Aston Villa last night.
Clyne, who made 137 first-team appearances for Palace before joining Southampton and then Liverpool, began training back with his old club in an attempt to return to Premier League football after suffering a long-term knee ligament injury and subsequently being released by Liverpool earlier this year.
Yesterday, Palace boss Roy Hodgson admitted that the full back had impressed in his two weeks with the club and that the club would make him an offer, pending “the last tick of the box…to see him in an U23 game.”
Now he has played in that game, Hodgson revealed to the South London Press today that a deal is going to be on the table.
“Nathaniel has played that game we wanted him to see him play in, but now it’s a question of [sporting director] Doug Freedman meeting with his representatives and Nathaniel himself and seeing if there is some sort of deal that will suit both parties,” revealed the Palace boss after the 4-0 loss at Chelsea today.
But did those 45 minutes of U23 action convince Hodgson he had seen enough?
“Yes, I did [see enough], but more importantly, I saw him in the two weeks of training. He’s still a way off the level of fitness and the level of playing that we think he’s capable of but that’s not so surprising when you see the amount of time he’s had away from the game due to injury.”
A concern for Palace fans and Hodgson is the lack of cover at right-back with the experienced Joel Ward the only first-team player used to that position as summer signing Nathan Ferguson has no return date from a persistent injury himself.
Hodgson recently admitted his fear of Ward receiving a long-term injury with the lack of alternative options at right-back. And today, he was a relieved man after the longest-serving Palace player left the pitch stricken following a slide for the ball on the final whistle which saw the former Portsmouth man stay down for a number of minutes.
“It was a horrendous looking challenge for Joel,” said Hodgson to the South London Press. “I’ve not had the chance to check with our medical department to find out the extent of any potential injury, but it was good to see him walk off the field.”
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