Jairo Riedewald’s professionalism has been hailed by Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson after the Dutchman made a surprise return to Premier League action on Saturday.
The Ajax academy graduate was introduced at half-time of the goalless draw with Watford, after makeshift left-back Jeffrey Schlupp suffered a muscle injury.
Before coming on at Vicarage Road, forgotten man Riedewald had not played in a top-flight game since a 3-2 win over Brighton in April 2018.
It has been a frustrating time for the 23-year-old since moving to Selhurst Park in July 2017 for a deal worth a reported £7.9million.
Riedewald, a centre-back by trade, signed for Palace under his old Ajax manager Frank De Boer, but has been given limited opportunities in recent campaigns and only made four appearances last season.
“Of course he has been frustrated, but he’s been a superb professional,” Hodgson said.
“He comes in all the time, gets on with his work and never ever complains. He doesn’t sulk or show he is particularly unhappy, but of course he is frustrated. Anyone would be.
“He was bought by the club – by the previous manager – two-and-a-half years ago and cost a fair amount of money by our standards.
“When you then don’t get a chance to play in the position you thought you were coming to play in, because the manager changes and decides he wants other people, it must be frustrating, but I have to take my hat off to him.
“He has not allowed that to show and he is a popular player with the others simply because he gets on with his work in a quiet and meaningful way.
“And when push comes to shove and we’ve had to ask him to really step up to the plate, he has done so.”
Injuries mean Riedewald may now be handed a rare start when Palace entertain Brighton on Monday week, with Patrick Van Aanholt out with a hamstring issue and Schlupp set to join him on the treatment table.
While he would again be out of position at left-back, Riedewald showed at Watford he is capable of performing that role.
“He is an intelligent player, he reads the game very well and uses the quality he has to good effect,” Hodgson added.
“On several occasions his composure and calmness on the ball was good and there is no doubt he will relish the opportunity if he continues in that position.”