The Guardian’s Rumour Mill series rarely relents in its droll roundup of the morning’s football gossip, but was in particularly fine form when discussing the possibility that Patrick Bamford may have his Crystal Palace loan cut short by parent club Chelsea, due to a lack of playing time.
“While the Rumour Mill can think of at least one struggling Premier League side who could probably do with a man of his talents, there’s no indication he’s going to be given a chance at Chelsea,” was the punchline, as the column suggested the England U21 international would likely need to wait until January to be found a new home.
Although making jokes at Chelsea’s expense has never been as much fun, there lies a deeper, more worrying question within Bamford’s current situation.
Is the 22-year-old ever going make it as a top-flight regular?
When he moved across the capital to take up a temporary residency among the Eagles’ forward options, there looked to be a reasonable chance that the country would get to see whether last season’s Championship Player of the Year could cut it at a higher level.
His competition for a starting spot was initially strong. Fraizer Campbell, Dwight Gayle, Marouane Chamakh, Glenn Murray and fellow newcomer Connor Wickham all jostled for room in Alan Pardew’s starting XI with the Chelsea man.
However, Murray was sold, Bristol City had an offer for Gayle accepted and Wickham joined Chamakh in the physio room. All of a sudden, Bamford looked to be in pole position for a prolonged run in the first team.
That Pardew has preferred Yannick Bolasie, a winger by trade, and Gayle, a player he was happy to ship off to the Championship, over the former Middlesbrough man is quite telling.
Bamford has managed just 16 minutes in the Premier League for Pardew this season. Should he return to Chelsea as rumours suggest, he will likely be restricted to U21 action and the odd FA Cup outing.
It can be argued that situation is no different to his current predicament at Palace, but it remains a concern that a manager in such dire need of a striker is so happy to overlook him.
No doubt another Championship loan is on the cards but, having scored 17 times for Boro last season, Bamford is in grave danger of being pigeonholed as a second-tier striker.
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