Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford has revealed that he personally opted to insert a six-month break clause into his season-long loan deal at Crystal Palace, allowing him to cut short his time in South London and return to Stamford Bridge if the move was not proving beneficial.
The 22-year-old's switch to Selhurst Park represented his first chance to excel in the top-flight of English football following impressive Football League loan spells at MK Dons, Derby and most recently Middlesbrough, yet he has made just six appearances in all competitions to date under Alan Pardew.
He was left on the bench for the 2-1 win against Liverpool this weekend, despite Palace currently struggling for consistent striking options with fellow substitute Connor Wickham and Marouane Chamakh short of match fitness and Dwight Gayle forced to miss out altogether with a hamstring injury sustained in training last week.
Tricky winger Yannick Bolasie enjoyed a successful outing as a makeshift centre-forward for the morale-boosting victory at Anfield, ably supported by the likes of Jason Puncheon, Wilfried Zaha and summer signings Bakary Sako and Yohan Cabaye.
"I put in a six-month break clause in case things didn't work out," a frustrated Bamford, whose only two starts for the Eagles so far this season came in Capital One Cup ties against Shrewsbury and Manchester City, told The Sun. "That would be if the worst came to the worst because at the minute I'm there or thereabouts.
"It's not like I'm not involved. If that was the case I'd go back. But I've said I wouldn't give up and that is my mentality. If I'm honest, it's been frustrating. But I suppose I've got to stay positive and not quit."
Bamford notched 19 goals last term as Aitor Karanka's Middlesbrough missed out on promotion from the Championship courtesy of an underwhelming play-off final defeat to Norwich at Wembley. And while it appears that his commitment has not wavered since leaving the Riverside Stadium, he claims a new approach in training may pay dividends as he seeks to make a more positive impression on Pardew over the coming weeks and avoid having to terminate his spell at Palace during the January window.
"I was disappointed when I was left out of the first Man City squad so I had a chat with him [Pardew]. He said he needed to see me show a bit more fight. I'd been training the same way I did at Middlesbrough and Derby and couldn't understand why I wasn't getting in the team. They monitor our stats in every session and I knew I was doing enough running but it was how it was being perceived.
"I had a chat with my dad and decided that sometimes you've just got to look like you're fighting. So I started putting myself about a bit more, showing a bit more aggression in training. The manager said he'd noticed I'd changed, that he was really pleased and that when I'd come on in games I'd been trying to take my chance."
A lack of first-team football at Palace could hardly be deemed ideal preparation for attempting to earn a regular place in Chelsea's first-team squad, yet the defending champions' recent struggles under Jose Mourinho – they have lost seven league games already this season, including each of their last three – can be characterised by a lack of penetration and meaningful end product. Diego Costa has scored just twice in his last 10 outings, while Loic Remy has only netted in cup competitions and Monaco loanee Radamel Falcao is currently sidelined with a muscle injury.