CRYSTAL Palace striker Aaron Wilbraham’s future is still in doubt despite making his first appearance in five months during Saturday’s crucial victory over Stoke City.

Wilbraham played a leading role in the Eagles’ successful play-off campaign but was not included in Ian Holloway’s final 25-man squad, meaning his last Premier League appearance came as a substitute against Sunderland on August 31.

His exclusion sparked some interest from Championship clubs keen to do a loan deal, but nothing materialised and the big striker was left to endure a frustrating few months away from the first team.

Wilbraham said: “It’s good to be back, it’s been five months since my last game.

“I think clubs started looking when the 25-man squad was announced and there was a bit of interest.

“I never heard anything concrete, I saw a few things in the papers but I needed the operation, so that put a stop to any move.”

The former Norwich player has just returned from 16 weeks out on the treatment table and is eager to take every opportunity which comes his way to force his way into Tony Pulis’ squad.

But he admits his future is no clearer at the moment.

Wilbraham explained: “The new manager has been great, always asking how the injury is and wishing me all the best but nothing has been mentioned in terms of whether I will be included in the squad this time round.

“I’m not sure what the manager’s plans are, I’m just focusing on getting myself fully fit and trying to work as hard as I can to be able to take any opportunity that comes my way this time.”

Whatever Pulis’ final plans, the striker’s team-mates are certainly glad to have him around again.

Dean Moxey was full of admiration for the way the 34-year-old has conducted himself since the disappointment of not making the squad in the summer.

The Selhurst defender said: “He was a big part of our play-offs last year and it was hard to see him not in the 25 because he is such a good lad to have around the place and you can see his quality.

“He’s been fantastic because although he didn’t make the 25, he hasn’t been a bad influence on anybody, he’s been supporting the lads and coming to games.

“Aaron would never slag anybody off or do anything bad against the cub because he’s not that sort of person, so it is good to see him back in the squad.”

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