Crystal Palace have been handed a key fitness boost ahead of their first FA Cup final appearance for 26 years, with Connor Wickham confirming that he is available for selection after injury. The Eagles face Louis van Gaal's Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday (21 May) in a repeat of the 1990 final, which they narrowly lost via replay following a memorable 3-3 draw under Steve Coppell.
Wickham has scored six times in 23 appearances so far this season, including consecutive braces against West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland. The 23-year-old striker also wrote his name into Palace folklore during the semi-final meeting with Watford by soaring above Nathan Ake to powerfully head home Pape Souare's cross for what proved to be the winning goal in a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
The player was one of several key names that missed the final match of the Premier League season last weekend, when Alan Pardew's side suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat to Southampton despite an impressive second-half strike from winger Jason Puncheon. The manager admitted during his post-match interview at St Mary's that Wickham had rolled his ankle, but that issue has not prevented the striker from training ahead of the final.
He previously missed over two months at the start of the season due to a calf problem and the aforementioned run of four goals in two matches back in early March was halted by a thigh injury that kept him sidelined for another four weeks.
Providing a definitive update on his fitness, Wickham told the Daily Express: "I've trained so there is no concern. I wouldn't say I'm sweating on my place, hopefully I've done enough to get in the team. So many injuries has been very frustrating, and the Premier League hasn't been great, but if we can finish with a trophy it will be a great season."
Pardew further claimed to harbour concerns over the fitness of Yohan Cabaye for the trip to Wembley. Scott Dann, Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha were also left out at St Mary's, but all four look set to return to the starting line-up for such a grand occasion. However, Joe Ledley will definitely not feature having sustained a broken leg against Stoke City at Selhurst Park. The Welsh midfielder's chances of representing his country at Euro 2016 this summer have been rated as no greater than 50/50.