Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira has admitted he has wanted to play the attacking trio of Michael Olise, Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze “more often” in the Premier League this season, but injuries have hampered his plans.
The trio started for the first time in the Premier League this season in the Eagles’ 1-0 win against Roy Hodgson’s Watford. The only goal of the game came through Wilfried Zaha’s 31st-minute penalty.
The Ivorian has recorded 14 goals this season in all competitions under the French World Cup winner Vieira.
Eze, who has had his game time gradually built up following the Achilles injury he picked up prior to the penultimate match of last season, started his third Premier League game in a row on Saturday.
Olise has recorded 12 goal contributions in all competitions during his first season with the South Londoners. The 20-year-old played his first 90 minutes against the Hornets since the 1-1 draw with Burnley in late February.
“I wanted to do it more often, but obviously with Eze and Michael’s injuries, it has been more challenging to do it,” said Vieira of starting the trio in the Premier League for the first time this season.
“There is no doubt about the potential that they have, but there is the other side of the game that they need to do.
“If they manage to do that [defensive side], then we can think about playing them three more often. If not, it will be really difficult, because we need to have the right balance to compete.
“This is one of the areas that we will need to improve as well.
“They can do it – they have it in their game. We saw that Wilfried is capable of doing it, and Michael needs to improve on that side [of his game].
“Eze showed today that he is capable of doing it as well.
“We have to be consistent with those kinds of performances. If they do it, with their talent, it will give me really good options to play those three.”
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD