Before the break, Crystal Palace were on course for their best points tally in Premier League history, albeit the Eagles have a tricky run-in heading into the final phase of the league season.
However, prior to the break they had all but secured their Premier League status for an eight consecutive year, courtesy of a hat-trick of 1-0 wins propelling Roy Hodgson’s side up the table and clear from danger.
With the Premier league announcement that it will be following in the footsteps of the Bundesliga, by permitting the use of up to 5 substitutions during the remaining games, instead of the tradition 3.
This is in order to help sides deal with the congested fixture list and the inevitable player fatigue that will arise due to the enforced Coronavirus break.
This could provide the perfect opportunity for academy players on the fringes of the first team squad to put themselves at the forefront of Hodgson’s planning as future first team stalwarts, with Palace’s thin squad depth about to be tested like never before.
Speaking to BT Sport, Hodgson said,” I think this period coming up, the nine games in very quick succession, it's a good opportunity to see what there is behind the first-team, players we haven't maybe dared to risk in the quest to achieve our goal, we might put some of those players in there. That could be really interesting.”
The first academy player who will be itching for game time is Brandon Pierrick. He will hotly tipped to assert himself as a first team regular during these remaining fixtures, should he be given the opportunity.
Pierrick provided a bright spark during the bleak Christmas period for the Eagles and was handed his Premier League debut away at Norwich City on New Year’s Day.
Pierrick did not disappoint; he turned the game around for Roy Hodgson’s side, playing a key role in helping Palace snatch an undeserved point away from Carrow Road.
An exquisite pass from Pierrick to Wilfired Zaha created the opportunity for Connor Wickham to score his first goal of the season and take a point back to South London.
Pierrick made his full debut against Derby County in the FA Cup a few days later as a reward for his impressive cameo against Norwich.
Although Palace put in a lacklustre performance against the Rams, which resulted in the Eagles being knocked out of the Cup, Pierrick looked promising, he provided a performance to leave Palace fans with expectations that the winger could be the next academy player to follow in the footsteps of Wilfried Zaha, Victor Moses and Sean Scannell.
Minutes have been hard to come by ever since for the winger. However, these remaining matches will provide the perfect opportunity for Brandon Pierrick to show what he can do on the Premier League stage and put himself firmly in Hodgson’s first team plans for the future.
Tyrick Mitchell is highly thought of at Crystal Palace as having the potential to become a future first team left back.
Mitchell joined the club back in 2016 when fellow London side, Brentford, disbanded their academy programme in favour of a B team set up.
Mitchell was a member of the squad that travelled to Switzerland for the Pre-season tour in the summer. He made his debut against FC Luzern, coming on with 30 minutes to go and leaving a very impressive impression firmly implanted in the mind of Roy Hodgson.
A last ditched challenge to deny Luzern the winner left Palace fans purring, with Mitchell resembling the awe inspiring defensive awareness of former Palace academy product, Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Unfortunately for Mitchell, he tore a tendon in his thigh on the Pre-season tour which saw him side-lined for large majority of the season thus far.
Since recovering from the injury, Mitchell has made the first team match day squad and has been close to making his first team competitive debut now for some time.
Patrick Van Anholt is the clear first choice starter under Hodgson. He offers vast experience defensively and, when joining in on the attack, Van Anholt is arguably one of the best attacking full backs in the Premier League.
Jaïro Riedewald has filled in at left back this season and impressed Hodgson during his stint in the side in January. He was rewarded with the Player of the Month award for his performances, but despite this, many at the club see Riedewald as a midfielder who, if needed, can fill in at left back due to his impressive versatility.
With Riedewald’s future in mind, and with the squad's depth about to tested like never before, Mitchell is highly likely to have the opportunity to show case his talents on the big stage and earn his first competitive start for the Eagles, with many hoping he can stake his claim as the future left back of Crystal Palace.
For attacking midfielder, Nya Kirby, if the opportunity was to arise for him to make his first professional debut, he needs to grab the chance with both hands to cement his future at Crystal Palace.
Kirby was an integral member of the England Under-17 World Cup winning squad from 2017. The squad contained promising talent such as Manchester City prodigy, Phil Foden, Chelsea wide man, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Brousia Dortmund superstar, Jadon Sancho, who are all tipped to be the scintillating future of English football.
Since returning from World Cup glory, Kirby has found it hard to break into Roy Hodgson's the first team thoughts. He has made the first team match day squad, but is alas yet to make it off the bench for his Palace debut.
Kirby impressed on loan at Blackpool at the end of last season. The 20 year old was expected to head out on loan again for this season to gain more valuable first team football.
However, nothing materialised and Kirby has been playing academy football this season, a backwards step in his development as what he really needs is regular competitive first team football.
Nevertheless, if Kirby was given the chance to prove that he has the ability to play in the Premier League, now will be the best opportunity for him to do so, before it's too late.