Another player awaiting his return to regular action is Nathan Ferguson, who has overcome a two-year fitness battle to be back training with his teammates. The young full-back made his debut against Tottenham Hotspur on Boxing Day, and Vieira says he is still “progressing well”.
“Obviously it’s really challenging because it’s been nearly two years in which he didn’t play. With these players we’ll have to be really patient.
“[We will] give him time to play week after week, month after month, play Under-23s and take part in some games with the first-team. We need to understand when you’re out for two years it’s really challenging to get back. He’s in a good place, doing well and now we have to give him a games programme [through which] he can keep improving.
“He’s been really impressive. I did not know a lot about him but since he came back to training he’s really comfortable with the ball at his feet. He can defend really well in one v one [situations], he has really good pace and is a really interesting young player.”
Snapping at the heels of players like Eze and Ferguson is a crop of talented young footballers. Vieira has always expressed his commitment to developing the club’s prospects and, after a training session at the new Academy facilities, reaffirmed his belief that south London is a hotbed of talent.
The proximity of skilled young footballers to SE25 has long paid dividends, and that trend continues today. With a Category 1 Academy, Palace are able to develop players from our half of the capital and further afield, including Irishman Jake O’Brien, who has recently earned a loan move to Swindon Town.
“We talk a lot about Paris having some fantastic young players but I believe south London is at the same level,” Vieira said. “When you look at the number of talents who play in the Premier League this is unbelievable. This is exciting for us as a football club because I believe those young players one way or the other should play for Palace.
“I think it’s always good to have those young players around the first-team because when you have really good role models like we have in our football club that gives them an idea about how to conduct themselves as a professional player.
“We know they have talent but talent is not enough; it’s how you lead your professional life every day to allow yourself to succeed. We have young players we give support and time to try to improve [them]. There are three of four of them who’ve been really impressive.
“It’s a really good move for [O’Brien] because he’s ready to play men’s football. He’s in a really good football club and hopefully he will be on the field tonight [against Manchester City] so we can watch him play.
“The loan system is really tricky and really difficult because you need to find a team that allows him to play and to understand which part of the game the players need to improve, and for the players to be at the right place where the manager and coaches can keep working with the player to help him develop… All these details are taken into consideration before sending a player on loan.”