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Patrick Vieira hopes Ebere Eze gives him some tough choices in the coming weeks

Millwall v Crystal Palace – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – The Den
(Image credit: John Walton)

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira hopes Ebere Eze gives him some difficult decisions to make over the coming weeks.

The 23-year-old made his first start in eight months in Saturday’s hard-fought 2-1 win over Millwall in the FA Cup third round.

Eze struggled to make an impact on the tie during his 64 minutes on the pitch but did show flashes of his class to continue his recovery from a serious Achilles injury in May.

With Cheikhou Kouyate, Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha away at the African Cup of Nations, there are set to be further opportunities for Michael Olise and the Eagles’ number 10 in January.

“All the players are impatient. They all want to play and this is what I like about Michael, what I like about Eze,” Vieira said.

“They want to be on the field and want to play. Their job is to make it difficult for me and when you look at the way both of them played, yes I will have a difficult decision to make in the next couple of weeks.”

Palace still have options in attack for the next month despite the absence of Ayew and Zaha with Jean-Philippe Mateta scoring in a rare start against Millwall while Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard were introduced off the bench.

There was also a place amongst the substitutes for teenager Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, who made his debut for the club away to Chelsea in August and continues to flourish in Premier League 2 this season.

After Olise’s stunning display at the Den, he will likely get the nod again at another rival in the shape of Brighton on Friday but Vieira hopes to see Eze progress more following his third appearance of the campaign.

He added: “Eze performed how I was expecting. When he gets the ball at his feet, he is a really creative player.

“At times you can see he is still missing a little bit of sharpness and that will come with time.

“I think he is just like Michael. We have a period where we are missing players up front and they will have more chance to play so I expect him and want him to progress game after game.

“I was really pleased with his performance. Like the team, he was more comfortable in the second half than he was in the first half.”

Millwall were denied another famous cup victory by a second-half turnaround from fellow south Londoners Palace.

The presence of Jed Wallace would have helped the Lions but the playmaker has only just returned to training and also continues to be linked with a move to Nottingham Forest, the club’s next opponent.

Boss Gary Rowett said: “Jed’s only trained for a couple of days, I didn’t think he had enough training or looked quite fit enough to affect this game.

“We’ll give him a little bit more time next week to make sure he’s available for Forest. But as we stand at the moment there is no reason why he wouldn’t be available for that game.”

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