Crystal Palace playmaker Ebere Eze will need patience on his return from a serious Achilles injury and it could take up to two years for him to rediscover his old form, a medical expert has warned.
The attacker was ruled out of the Eagles’ final two games of the season following a training ground injury which is set to sideline him for the rest of 2021.
Eze, who scored four times and provided six assists during his debut campaign in the top flight, faces a long road to recovery after surgery on the tendon, but has been backed to hit his previous heights.
Sports scientist Dr Rajpal Brar told the PA news agency: “Typically from what I have seen in my experience and more so the research for elite footballers, you are looking at Eze returning to play, being back with the team and playing on the pitch in seven to nine months.
“But there is a difference between being fit and being where you were pre-injury and that can take, it’s decreasing, but you are looking at 18 to 24 months to be back at that level.
“You have seen it with other young guys for example Callum Hudson-Odoi, who tore his Achilles. I don’t know if he has reached his potential but it can take a long time to get back to that pre-injury level both physically and more so mentally.”
Chelsea ace Hudson-Odoi sustained his injury in April of 2019 and revealed in November he was still not back at full strength, but has made 37 appearances this season and could feature in Saturday’s Champions League Final.
Meanwhile, Eze, following a £20million move from QPR last summer, was one of Palace’s leading lights in the Premier League this term and Brar pointed out that his age and positive injury history should cut down the recovery time.
The Los Angeles-based doctor said of the 22-year-old: “It is helpful always when you are on the younger side because there is less wear and tear on your body and typically you may have had less injuries in general which is helpful.
“Teams will also be more patient on you with your return rather than trying to quickly get you back on the pitch.”
Eze has four years to run on his contract and will be joined on the treatment table by defender Nathan Ferguson, who also sustained a serious Achilles injury in training last week, PA understands.
The former West Brom player moved to Palace last summer, but an initial long-term knee problem and then repeated thigh issues have stopped the 20-year-old from making his Eagles debut.
Brar, who runs 3cb Performance rehab centres in Los Angeles and Valencia, feels Ferguson could get his career back on track but highlighted the mental challenge ahead with his last competitive outing at the start of 2020.
“It is a long and tough hill to climb but I would hate to rule a player out,” the sports scientist added.
“The biggest thing is the mental part, the fear of reinjure or movement and the term is called kinesiophobia; phobia being fear and kinesio being movement.”
Palace were able to celebrate better news on Monday when their under-23s triumphed 5-3 on penalties in a play-off final with Sunderland to win promotion to the Premier League 2.
After 120 minutes without a goal in front of a buoyant crowd of 2,759 at Selhurst Park, spot-kicks were required and when Ellis Brown fired over, David Omilabu made no mistake to seal victory for the young Eagles.
Goalkeeper Ollie Webber made a string of fine saves in wet conditions and said: “It sounded like a full house, it was incredible.”
The Northern Ireland Under-21 international has worked with Palace great Julian Speroni this season and admitted: “It’s been amazing to work with him.
“He has come in once a week, taken sessions and it has been great just to talk to him about his experiences and to learn and have him around for advice because he is such a legend.
“For me next year, I think I want to get out on loan and get some more senior games and football under my belt. Obviously if that can’t happen, I’d love to train with the first team.”
Palace announced the signing of American midfielder Jacob Montes on Tuesday on a 12-month deal.
The 22-year-old joins from college team Georgetown University and has past experience with Portland Timbers’ academy while he has represented the United States at under-19 level.