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Patrick Vieira: Marc Guehi should maintain form to fulfil international ambition

Patrick Vieira has urged Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi to maintain his current form if he wants to fulfil his international ambitions.

The centre-back will face old club Chelsea on Saturday looking to build on a fine debut campaign at Selhurst Park where he has started 26 of the Eagles’ 27 matches in all competitions.

After two loan spells at Swansea in the Sky Bet Championship, Guehi decided to leave Stamford Bridge on a permanent basis last summer and it has paid off with regular Premier League football, while he was also made England Under-21 captain in September.

“What I am sure about is Marc has the potential,” Vieira said when quizzed on the possibility of a senior call-up for the Young Lions skipper.

“Now it is about maintaining these kind of performances, to improve and to keep improving and then there is a manager (Gareth Southgate) who will make his decision.

“When his name is being mentioned, that’s a good start but it’s about what he will do in the next couple of weeks, next couple of months and next couple of years that will dictate if he has the level to go international or not. The potential is there.”

Guehi made only two appearances for Chelsea before Crystal Palace paid £18million to lure him across the capital on a five-year deal.

Vieira laughed off suggestions the 21-year-old had already repaid his fee with a string of consistent displays this term, but described the Ivory Coast-born centre-back as a natural when it comes to leadership.

“Marc at a young age is one of our leaders,” the Eagles boss added.

“He plays with calmness, confidence and strength. He’s been a really important player for us and will be a massive player in the future.

“He really impresses me with his maturity and calmness as a centre-back.

“He doesn’t show any kind of weaknesses and this is a really positive sign. He’s always open to a discussion, wants to learn and wants to maximise his potential. He’s a really interesting player to work with.”

Palace signed five outfield players in the summer with Will Hughes the oldest at 26, in a change of policy compared to Vieira’s predecessor Roy Hodgson.

Yet the former Nice and New York City boss talked up the importance of senior figures already at the club – in Luka Milivojevic, James McArthur and Christian Benteke – in helping people like Guehi flourish.

Vieira added: “It’s important to find the right balance between those young players and experienced players because those young players need players around with experience to guide them.

“I think if Marc is doing that well, he has players in front of him who allow him to play.

“The balance of building a team is massively important. We can’t have 11 Marc’s on the field, you need a Macca, a Luka around or a Christian around, those players who know what the Premier League is all about.”

Midfielder Conor Gallagher will sit out Saturday’s match due to the terms of his loan agreement from parent club Chelsea.

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