Garth Crooks opted to include Chelsea starlet Cole Palmer in his BBC Team of the Week – only to level criticism at the talented youngster.
The 21-year-old netted twice during his side’s 3-2 victory against Luton on Saturday, as well as providing the assist for his England Under-21 team-mate Noni Madueke’s goal, as he continued his prodigious goal contribution streak.
Since moving to the west London side from Manchester City over the summer, the £40million player has become a bright spot in the Blues’ troubled season, which was typified by the late conceding of two goals and a breathless finish to nab all three points on Saturday afternoon.
After his efforts at Kennilworth Road over the weekend, Palmer sits top of Chelsea’s scorers during their current campaign with eight goals in 19 games, as well as registering six assists, the club’s highest total.
His brilliance on the road earned him a spot in Crooks’ infamous XI, which has previously raised eyebrows for the harsh line it can take with stars who make it into the line-up.
Cole Palmer played a starring role in Chelsea’s 3-2 victory against Luton on Saturday afternoon
The 21-year-old netted twice as well as providing the assist for team-mate Noni Madueke’s goal
But BBC pundit Garth Crooks was unwilling to serve up limitless praise for the Blues starlet
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‘The only bright spark for the visitors was Palmer,’ the pundit shared in his reasoning for including the England international, ‘whose two goals were taken quite brilliantly’.
But Crooks was quick to change tack, adding that the English midfielder ‘needs to watch himself’.
‘Ducking out of headers on defensive set plays doesn’t endear yourself to your team-mates, neither does suddenly losing touch with the game having scored two goals when really he should be searching for his hat-trick,’ Crooks reprimanded.
The pundit had included Palmer in a midfield which also included former City team-mate Phil Foden, Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise, and Morgan Gibbs-White of Nottingham Forest.
Whilst Palmer may have aspects of his game to work on, his flourishing under Mauricio Pochettino has given rise to the suggestion that former manager Pep Guardiola was wrong to have let him move south to a Premier League rival.
Chris Sutton stated that Palmer had ‘single-handedly carrier the Blues this season’ and that the decision to let him go may have left him with ‘egg on his face’ in Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast, and his co-host Ian Ladyman suggested that Palmer would be a shoe-in to travel to Germany for this summer’s European Championship.
‘Cole Palmer to me looks like he should be in that England team in the summer,’ Ladyman said. ‘I don’t know how he gets in and who comes out to get him in but he just looks like one of those players that has to play.
Palmer featured heavily during England’s Under-21 Euros win last summer and could yet step up at senior level in Germany
‘You have to find a home for him somewhere.’
Palmer’s next task will likely be helping Chelsea continue to compete across all fronts in the Blues’ first FA Cup match against Preston on Saturday.
Chelsea’s hopes of gaining European qualification for next season are strongest through victory in cup competitions, and after meeting one Championship team over the weekend, Pochettino’s side will face another in their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.
The Premier League side will travel to Middlesbrough to face the 12th-placed side on Tuesday evening.