Zaha returns to Palace training ahead of Chelsea clash

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The Eagles have not won without the Ivory Coast international this season but he could now be in contention for Saturday's trip to Stamford Bridge

Wilfried Zaha has returned to Crystal Palace training, but manager Roy Hodgson will not rush the winger back into action.

Zaha suffered a knee ligament injury against Newcastle United on February 4, with initial reports indicating he could miss the rest of the season.

Palace have lost all three Premier League matches since Zaha's injury, the Eagles collapsing to a 3-2 home loss against Manchester United on Monday despite taking a two-goal lead.

But although Hodgson indicated Zaha has recovered much quicker than anticipated, the Ivory Coast international may not be risked for Saturday's trip to Chelsea.

"He was able to join in with the team for the first time in a modified session," Hodgson told reporters on Thursday.

"It's enormous progress considering he is so far ahead of schedule.

"We have to be careful as it was a serious injury. We'll see how he feels tomorrow, which will also be a light session. 

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"It’s a remarkable recovery, but we don’t think he'll be able to come back like the Wilf Zaha he was before the injury after two modified sessions.

"All teams rely upon their decisive players, so when you have a player out for any length of time there's always a risk you'll push for him to come back earlier than he should. That's the balance I've got to get right."

Palace, having enjoyed a strong run of form through November and December, are back in the Premier League's relegation zone, a point adrift of safety.

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