Another transfer window, another starlet snatched away from the Palace academy like a silent kidnapping. Palace fans are used to it, it’s only natural to see a bigger fish seize away a gem from the prestigious youth system at Selhurst Park. In recent years, Ben Watson, Victor Moses, Tom Soares, John Bostock and Wayne Routledge have followed the yellow brick road all the way to the Premiership, some enjoying more success than others. And this year it is no different with the new owners taking a tight budgeted approach to life in SE25, the new breed of Palace hero is bound to make an impression on a wealthier owner.
2010 has been a mixed year for Palace. Administration, survival, survival again in regard to liquidation and now survival yet again as the team have slumped to 22nd in the table. A whole host of players left in the summer, although most departed with higher wage needs that the club could not fulfill, at the end of their contracts. The precarious league position, due to inconsistency and a lack of depth in the squad, means that higher ranked teams can tempt our current crop with greater ease. Neil Danns, Darren Ambrose and Julian Speroni are 3 players in their prime who would all love a go at the big league again, while Nathaniel Clyne, Lee Hills, Wilfried Zaha and Sean Scannell are those yet to have tasted England’s top tier.
Danns: A vital part of the Palace midfield
Co-Chairman, Steve Parish has been quoted to have accepted the fact that the club may listen to offers for Danns and Speroni in January, which is not what Palace fans wanted to hear. Speroni, who was the subject of a move to Fulham on transfer deadline day this August, has refused to make a decision about his future and hasn’t signed a new contract, further stating that he wasn’t pleased that the club blocked the move. Danns has also refused to sign a contract in the short term as he continues to attract big names with his energy and skills in the heart of midfield. Had it not been for Speroni, Palace could well be in League 1 by now as without his agile reflexes and astute co-ordination, the team would be dead and buried. He has won the Player of the Year for 3 consecutive years and is the club’s longest serving player currently. It would be a travesty for Palace to lose a player of his quality. As for Danns, he scored vital goals last season and has proved to be one of the Championships better players with his reading of the game and lung busting runs.
Darren Ambrose, who himself was also close to a transfer in the summer, has since signed a new contract for 3 extra years. However, that matters little if a tempting bid is waved atop George Burley’s desk and Darren fancies another crack at the big time. At 26 years old, Ambrose was the star of the season last year, only overshadowed by Cardiff’s Peter Whittingham. The Palace winger notched 20 league goals last year, ensuring Palace remained in the league and FA Cup, where he also smashed in some memorable strikes. 3 of Palace’s 4 most recognised players (the other being captain Paddy McCarthy) are being closely monitored, if even one departs, it could spell trouble for the South London side.
The youngsters at Selhurst are nothing short of spectacular. Hoards of players have been shipped out like a Chinese production line in recent years, straight into first team action. Of them, Natahaniel Clyne is probably the most widely known and targeted, having sparked interest among Wigan and Birmingham last year. The marauding right back has been a regular for 2 seasons now which is nothing short of remarkable baring in mind he is still only 19! With England U19 caps, it is only a matter of time before he makes the step up. Another lad with the same national experience as Clyne is Lee Hills, a tactical left back who has spent a long period out of the game with a serious knee injury. He has showed signs of maturity with a handful of substitute appearances last term.
Not long before Clyne has another go at Premiership players
Recently, Wilfried Zaha has been touted as Victor Moses’ replacement following the crafty wingers’ transfer to Wigan last year. With pace, tricks, finishing and intelligence, Zaha has been a revelation in the side this year, terrorising full backs consistently. Parish has stated that he is not for sale but also went onto say that he would consider a massive bid if placed upon his desk. Of the talented 18 year old he has said that “he is a fabulous player and integral part of our plans”, so highly is he regarded in these parts.
Sean Scannell, like Hills has been on the sidelines for a while with a nasty injury, perhaps decreasing his sale value. Nonetheless, the exciting winger has been called into the Republic of Ireland national set up previously and can pop up with the odd goal having been introduced into the team in 2007 and scoring on debut with a stunning chip against Sheffield Wednesday.
Of the players mentioned, it will be a catastophe if even one exits as each fan mourns the loss of a hero and the club struggles to locate a replacement. But with the impending money travelling into the Palace accounts, it won’t be long before another player reaches the same status.