Crystal Palace midfielder Eberechi Eze says his Achilles injury was “difficult” to go through but hopes to get back to delivering the level of performances that he was last season.
The 23-year-old Greenwich-born playmaker made his first Premier League home start of the season in Monday night’s goalless draw with relegation candidates Leeds United.
Eze had to wait to make an impact on Patrick Vieira’s side while he returned from a serious Achilles injury that he picked up prior to the final home game of last season.
Eze scored four goals and registered six assists in his debut campaign for the Eagles after signing from QPR for an initial £18million.
Asked if he felt as though he was close to getting back to his best after the draw to Leeds, Eze said: “For sure. It takes time. I have been ready to play for a while but obviously you have to wait for the right time, and the manager, so we will get there eventually.
“It was good today – it was a fun game to play in. Obviously, we want to win, but we have to take the result we got today.
“I just want to keep going, play my football as well as I can, get back to the way I was performing last season, and see where that takes me.”
Speaking on the frustration he felt while waiting to make his return from injury and establish himself on Vieira’s side, Eze said: “It was difficult going through an injury like that and having to get back up to speed. But we’re getting there – it is a matter of time now.
“He [Vieira] told me to keep going, keep working, and obviously, there is a space for me in the team when the time comes. It was just a matter of time – we’re just working.”
Eze was set to be called up to Gareth Southgate’s provisional 33-man England squad ahead of Euro 2020 before he suffered the injury in training last season.
Speaking on whether seeing fellow Palace team-mates Tyrick Mitchell and Marc Guehi being named in the recent Three Lions squad – and earning their international debuts in the process – drove him to get back in that point of his career, Eze added: “For sure. Seeing players like that do well, and these guys are young in this team, they’re pushing on, and that’s the aim. They’re getting their rewards for it, so it only shows what is possible at this level.”
PICTURE: ROB AVIS