Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson revealed his relief that the “nasty” eye injury James Tomkins suffered following an accident at training last month did not lead to the defender’s premature playing retirement.
The exact details of the incident that led to the problem ahead of Palace’s fixture against West Ham on January 26 are unknown, but Tomkins has been under the knife to correct a couple of issues and faces a long convalescence.
While upbeat about Tomkins’ return before the end of the season, Hodgson refused to put a timescale on a comeback as he insisted his only focus presently is the 31-year-old recovering his full eyesight.
“All the experts can tell me is it’s a matter of time, it’s not a quick-healing process,” Hodgson said. “All we can do at the moment is wait and rejoice in the improvement we seem to be seeing on a daily basis.
“There’s no way he’s going to be rushed back into football until he is 100 per cent certain himself that his eye is fine and his eyesight is going to be perfect again and he’s ready to play football.
“I really can’t put a timescale on it because every time I ask the doctors and the specialists they just reiterate that it was a nasty injury and we’ve got to give it the time it needs.
“We’ve got three months left of the season, it’s certainly not going to be in the coming weeks, that’s for sure, but I remain optimistic and hopeful.
“Most of all I am very glad I’m not talking about James Tomkins who’s been forced to retire from football because of a really bad eye injury which he picked up in training.”
Tomkins, who is one of several first-team players on the sidelines ahead of Sunday’s visit of relegation-threatened Fulham, has missed Palace’s last six matches and is currently unable to do any fitness work.
Hodgson added: “The specialists don’t want him doing any physical training, not even in the gymnasium.
“Everything is focused on his eye returning to normal, but we do hope that as these things do get better, he’ll get permission to start some sort of physical work to get himself back hopefully into a position where he might return.
“We do miss him, there’s no question about that. He was playing extremely well. He’s a real quality player.”