Chelsea must sign a striker in the January transfer window if they choose to send Patrick Bamford out for a second loan spell following his return from Crystal Palace, according to former player and assistant manager Ray Wilkins. Bamford returned to West London mid-way through his projected season-long spell at Selhurst Park, failing to make a single Premier League start during the first half of the campaign.

The 22-year-old revealed – following a goalless draw with Swansea City – that he would be leaving Palace, prior to informing manager Alan Pardew, after describing his spell at the club as "terrible". The Daily Mail understands that interim boss Guus Hiddink could give the former Middlesbrough loanee an opportunity in the first team, but it is expected that Bamford will be sent out on loan for a second time this term.

Diego Costa, Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao's struggles with form, discipline and fitness have contributed to Chelsea making their worst-ever start to a Premier League season, consigning them to a fight for a Champions League place for the remainder of the campaign. Though Wilkins wants to see Bamford – who has never made a senior appearance for the Stamford Bridge club – given a chance to make an impact, he says a new striker is required in the January window.

"I think they need another forward. Loic Remy seems to be injured on numerous occasions and he's never available for selection," Wilkins told Sky Sports."I look at Chelsea and Patrick Bamford, for example. When a side like Chelsea are playing to the ability that they have I'm sure you can throw a young man in and give him an opportunity to play.

"I'm sure Bamford, who scored 19 goals for Middlesbrough in the Championship last season, would score goals for Chelsea because he is a very bright human being. OK, he's not the quickest but given the opportunities that Chelsea create I think he could score a goal. Now, whether they let him back out on loan, I've no idea, but if they do then I think they have to strengthen."