If there was ever a perfect time to hand Will Hughes his Premier League in Crystal Palace colours, it’s tomorrow night at Elland Road.
Leeds United might not have hit the ground running during their second season back in the big time, the Duracell batteries in Marcelo Bielsa’s machine running dangerously low on energy, but they still possess the ability to overwhelm any team in the top flight, as Leicester City and Wolves have found out during recent trips to West Yorkshire.
And if Crystal Palace are to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s disappointing performance against Aston Villa, Patrick Vieira surely cannot afford to put his faith in the sluggish Luka Milivojevic and the technically-limited Cheikhou Kouyate when daring to tread into Bielsa’s backyard.
Milivojevic and Kouyate toiled as Palace suffered a 2-1 home defeat to a fired-up Aston Villa, out-fought, out-ran and out-scored by John McGinn and co.
James McArthur may not be the most glamorous member of Vieira’s squad but ask any Selhurst Park regular and they will tell you that the 34-year-old’s influence should never be underestimated.
With the veteran Scot on the sidelines with a hamstring injury that could keep him out until early 2022, Palace have failed to win either of their last two games, conceding five goals along the way.
But, of all the midfielders at Vieira’s disposal, former Watford ace Hughes is the one who looks most suitable to step into McArthur’s shoes.
Could Will Hughes finally play for Crystal Palace vs Leeds?
The former England U21 international, who was linked with Aston Villa and Newcastle United before joining Palace for £6 million, has not made a single Premier League appearance at his new club but, if the supporters had their way, that would change on Tuesday night.
“He will have to get a chance,” Vieira told Football London on Friday.
“We have a squad where we have players who have not had their chance yet, but at the same time, they have to be ready for it.
“I’m really happy with what he is showing me in training and he is just waiting for his opportunity.”
Could that opportunity finally arrive this week?