Crystal Palace have been handed a major boost ahead of their London Derby clash with Chelsea this weekend following the return of Senegalese midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate to first-team training. The Eagles will play hosts to Chelsea in the Premier League this weekend hoping to avenge their 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture on the opening weekend of this season.

Kouyate has returned to Crystal Palace after representing his country at the recently concluded African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament. He helped Senegal to win the AFCON tournament for the first time in their history. The ex-West Ham United star started the final win over Egypt before he was subbed off around the midway point of the second half. Senegal needed penalty shootout to see off Egypt after the two teams failed to score any goal in 120 minutes.

32-year-old Kouyate is in the final year of his Crystal Palace contract and talks have already been initiated on a new deal as reported by English publication The Athletic. Kouyate is attracting the interest of teams in Saudi Arabia, but Palace officials want to give him a one-year extension at least.Kouyate has played over 100 games for Crystal Palace since his transfer from fellow London team West Ham United in 2018.

While the return of Kouyate to the Crystal Palace squad is a big boost for manager Patrick Vieira, he will have to navigate the Chelsea game without influential player Conor Gallagher who’s ineligible to face his parent club. England international Gallagher is on loan at Palace from Chelsea having joined them last summer for one season. Chelsea are the new Club World Cup champions and they will play their first Premier League clash since the home win over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur when they take on Palace at Selhurst Park.