We've not seen much of Mile Jedinak in the Palace side, and there's a belief among some fans that he's much missed. Jack Pierce takes a look at the issue for us.
When Mile Jedinak arrived in SE25, Palace had just avoided relegation to English football's third tier.
Four year on and Palace have begun their third season in the Premier League and are looking upwards.
Since the end to last season, there has been a lot of talk about what's in store for the skipper and whether he has a future in red and blue. As far as I'm concerned, 'Jedi' remains one of the club's most important players and figures.
Competition for places in Alan Pardew's preferred three man midfield has never been fiercer and with the likes of Yohan Cabaye walking through the door, the calibre of midfielder has never been higher.
Joe Ledley , James McArthur, Jordon Mutch and Jason Puncheon along with Jedinak and Cabaye are all looking for a starting berth in Palace's engine room and all have their merits. Unfortunately for them, seven doesn't go into three. While Mutch, Cabaye and Puncheon can play further up the field, at this moment in time it seems the Australian is in direct competition with McArthur and Ledley for starts.
Ledley, a player of huge worth since signing 18 months ago, hasn’t even made the bench for the first two games of the season.
Jedinak himself has been on the bench against Norwich and Arsenal but will have known that his starting place now isn't as secure as it had been during the past two campaigns. Pardew's clearly looking for a more pleasing style on the eye - a style in which the likes of Cabaye, Puncheon and McArthur should and hopefully will excel in. Jedinak's approach, despite being very effective, isn't based upon neat passing and hitting teams on the break, the team's most impressive features of Pardew's 21 league games in charge.
Pardew’s given the impression that he rates the Aussie skipper; he's spoken very highly of Jedinak in the past. That said, Pardew has recently stated that Cabaye will be the player he speaks to most during games; a role that the Aussie undoubtedly had under Messrs Holloway, Pulis and Warnock.
The defensive midfielder’s stats for the last two seasons have been outstanding. He's often topped Premier League lists regarding most successful tackles and interceptions. He's done what many don't and won plaudits for doing the uglier side of the game very well. Under Pulis, he was exceptional and provided a vital cog in the well driven machine that the baseball capped one turned Palace into.
A key turning point came last January. While the form his club showed while he was away captaining his country at The Asia Cup pleased all Palace fans, it did highlight that Palace could win top flight games without Jedi's presence at the base of midfield. Ever since that run of games, there has been an air around the club that Jedi's role isn't as vital now as it was when we first came up.
Cabaye's signing has signalled the next stage of the club's evolution but that isn't to say Jedinak shouldn't and doesn't have a role in and around the squad.
During his time in South London, Jedinak has become highly regarded both domestically and internationally. As his national side's captain, he's led his country at a World Cup as well as to victory in this year's Asia Cup. Such experience and leadership can only help a changing room of players on the verge of doing something very special. If managed well and with a little luck, this Palace side could become the most heralded in the club's history.
A character like Jedinak will remain vital in a squad in which expectation will be heightened and that's without contemplating the impact he can still have on the pitch. There aren't many better defensive midfielders in the league.
On Sunday, against a quick passing Arsenal side, we could’ve benefitted from Jedi’s presence in front of the back four. If not from the start, when Yannick Bolasie was withdrawn at half time, the Aussie would’ve tightened things up with the impressive Cabaye slotting in behind Connor Wickham. Instead, the introduction of Jordon Mutch did nothing to add any steel to the Palace midfield and Arsenal continued to move the ball at will.
Whether it's from the start of games or coming on later and shoring things up in matches we're ahead in, our captain can still play an instrumental role in any success we might have ahead of us.
Nobody will believe that more than the man himself.
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