BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Crystal Palace academy graduate Nathaniel Clyne has linked up with his former club as he bids to return to fitness and Premier League action.
The defender, who also played for Southampton and Liverpool, is with the Eagles squad at their training ground in Beckenham as he aims for a return to match action this season.
“I believe he was coming in today to get (COVID-19) tested so he can take part in some training with us over the next couple of weeks,” said Palace boss Roy Hodgson today, ahead of the trip to face Manchester United on Saturday.
“Nathaniel didn’t train with us today, I haven’t seen him [yet, but he could train on] Monday. It’s pretty unlikely he will be able to do anything (training-wise) tomorrow as we don’t always get the test results that quickly – I am in the hands of the doctor.
“If the test results come quickly, I am sure he will be able to join in (training), but tomorrow I am going to be concentrating largely on the 18 players who are going to Manchester, so if he does train it will be with another group.”
Clyne made 137 first team appearances for the Eagles before joining the newly-promoted Southampton in July 2012 with the fee initially set to be decided by tribunal as the two clubs could not initially decide on the then out-of-contract 21-year-old.
Eventually they did, and, ironically, Clyne could be brought in as a back-up for fellow Palace full back, the 19-year-old Nathan Ferguson, himself signed as a free agent from West Bromwich Albion at the end of last season but whose fee is also set to be decided by tribunal due to his young age.
However, Ferguson has been nursing a long-term knee injury and is still in the rehabilitation stage, meaning there is no cover for Joel Ward, currently in the position.
“Yes, he might be considering signing, but a lot hinges on Nathan Ferguson who we’ve actually brought in to be a right back at the club and compete in the place,” said Hodgson about Clyne.
“A lot will depend on how his (Ferguson’s) injury situation pans out over the next few weeks. It will be very nice to see where Nathaniel is and if there is an opportunity for us to offer him something or if he is interested, in that case, of us offering something, of him joining us.
“He’s interested in improving his fitness and show us, and perhaps other clubs too, he’s fit and ready to go again and we’re happy to welcome him back into the fold and give him that opportunity.”
The Eagles put out a short statement on their club website earlier today, announcing their former player had returned to the club.
It read; “Everyone at Crystal Palace F.C. is delighted to welcome Nathaniel back for this short period of time, as he aims to regain his fitness.”
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