Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew admits on-loan striker Patrick Bamford may return to Chelsea in January if he continues to struggle for first-team opportunities at Selhurst Park. The 22-year-old spent last season on loan with Middlesbrough, where he struck 19 league goals and won the Championship young player of the season award. Encouraged by that form, a number of clubs across England's top two divisions attempted to sign the striker on loan during the summer transfer window, with Palace fending off the competition to bring him to south-east London.
First-team opportunities have come at a premium, though. The England Under-21 international has played just 16 minutes of Premier League football and started just one game against Shrewsbury Town in the Capital One Cup. His lack of game time sparked suggestions Chelsea may seek to cancel their arrangement with Palace and find Bamford another club in January, something Pardew admits is a possibility.
"It's unfortunate for Patrick because he's working hard, but it is an obvious situation," Pardew said, the Guardian reports. "If he doesn't play for any real time between now and January then, for sure, we'll have to look at it. But he's had a lot of competition and he's trying to understand the way we play. If he gets the chance I'm sure he wants to take it. He's fighting for his right to get into the team."
While Bamford excelled in the Championship last season, Palace assistant manager Keith Millen says the striker is still getting to grips with the demands of the Premier League.
"We have spoken to Chelsea, they keep in contact with us and really do analyse what is going on with their players," he told the South London Press. "Early on he found it quite a step up as far as the tempo and demands of the Premier League plus the way we play and train. He had to adapt. He also has a niggly problem with his knee which has not stopped him playing but has not been ideal."