James McArthur in contention for Crystal Palace's trip to Old Trafford

The Scottish midfielder looked set to be ruled out for the rest of the season after an ankle ligament injury, but could be in line for a return next week.

Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur could make a return for the Eagles' trip to Manchester United next week, despite initially being ruled out for the rest of the Premier League season.

The 28-year-old suffered an ankle ligament injury in the home defeat to Bournemouth in February, but boss Alan Pardew now expects him to be available for the re-arranged trip to Old Trafford next Wednesday (April 20th).

According to South London Today, the former Newcastle boss told reporters: “James McArthur is very close [to recovery], he’s training with us now.

"He'll probably, if it all goes well we’re hoping, feature in the Man Utd game which will be a huge bonus for us before the FA Cup semi-final – we’ve really missed him."

A 1-0 win over Norwich on Saturday was Palace's first in 2016, and Pardew hopes that the return of McArthur will provide an additional boost during what has been an injury-plagued campaign.

And Pardew admits he is looking forward to naming a stronger squad for the visit of Everton on Wednesday, which marks the beginning of a busy programme of upcoming league and cup games.

"We've missed some big, big players," he added. "Some of the injured players came back three to four weeks ago and we’re getting the benefits of them now as you need two to three games under your belt.

"So now, there’s no excuse; our bench is going to be very strong tomorrow for the first time for a long time."

Striker Conor Wickham is also back in contention for a place, while Emmanuel Adebayor faces a late fitness test.

"In recent games that bench has been filled with players not 100 per cent fit, but now we’re there with the exception of perhaps Adebayor.

"Wickham was involved in the last game, and will be for Everton, but whether he starts or not we’ll have to wait and see.

“We’re much stronger now."

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