Crystal Palace attacking midfielder Eberechi Eze is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Eze played 88 minutes of the 1-0 win at Manchester United on Saturday but manager Roy Hodgson did not at the time indicate the 25-year-old had sustained an injury.
The issue means Eze is highly likely to miss the October internationals with England, having previously been in the squad for the September fixtures.
Eze has started all seven of Palace’s Premier League games so far this season, scoring one goal.
Eze has entered the final 24 months of his contract at Palace, signed when he joined from Queens Park Rangers in 2020, but The Athletic reported last month that the Premier League are expected to open initial talks with him over a new deal.
He has emerged as one of Palace’s most important players since moving from QPR. Last season, Eze played in all 38 Premier League games and enjoyed his best top-flight scoring season, registering 10 goals.
Palace are already without fellow attacker Michael Olise, who suffered a setback in his recovery from a hamstring injury he sustained while on France Under-21 duty in June.
Striker Odsonne Edouard and midfielder Jefferson Lerma are also out with hamstring injuries but Matheus Franca, the summer signing from Flamengo who has yet to make his Palace debut, has returned to training.
How big a blow could Eze’s absence be for Palace?
Of all the injuries that could have befallen him, Eze is the one Hodgson would have been most dreading.
Eze has shouldered the bulk of the attacking burden for Palace this season, in the absence of Wilfried Zaha — who turned down the offer of a new contract with the club in favour of a move to Galatasaray — Olise and Franca.
Although Eze has only one goal and no assists this season, his contribution to Palace’s impressive start has been vital. Nobody else possesses his ability to carry the ball upfield, pull defenders out of position and unlock a defence with a pass, while his dead-ball delivery is also a weapon — a point emphasised at Manchester United on Saturday when his free kick led to Joachim Andersen’s winner.
Without Eze, Hodgson’s already painfully thin attacking resources have been reduced even further, particularly as Odsonne Edouard, Palace’s leading scorer, is nursing his own hamstring injury.
The fact that four of the current first-team squad (Olise, Eze, Edouard and Lerma) are out with hamstring problems underlines Palace’s lack of resources, as huge demands are currently being placed on a very small core group of players.
There is a chance that Olise and Franca may be available after the international break but for the time being, Hodgson must rely on Palace’s stern defence — only three sides have conceded fewer goals than the London side — to ensure a promising start to the campaign does not fizzle out.
(Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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