Striker return boost for Eagles
Eagles boss Roy Hodgson hopes Christian Benteke will be back in action for Crystal Palace early in the new year.
The Belgium striker, who has made just four appearances this season, underwent knee surgery in October.
The 28-year-old is making encouraging progress and while a Christmas return has been ruled out, a January comeback is on the cards.
Hodgson said: "I think the medical and sports science people always told me I wouldn't be able to count on him until the end of December, beginning of January. That's where he is.
"He was a week ahead of schedule and we were hoping we would be back in training with the team next week, but that's been put back.
"I think it will probably now be after the FA Cup tie but the good thing is he is working hard and he is absolutely determined to get back on that field of play and score the goals that he was brought to the club to score.
"His attitude has been excellent in his recovery and we're looking forward to seeing him again. We don't think it will be too long."
Nick Harris is a long-standing journalist who specialises in football and rugby league. An avid golfer, Nick also follows the major boxing fights closely.