Two more stars in waiting have graduated from the Palace academy as Jake Gray and Sullay Kaikai celebrated Christmas in style by putting pen to paper on professional deals until the end of the 2014/15 season. The deals come into effect on 1st January 2013.
Striker Kaikai has been at the club since the age of 15 and progressed his way through the youth teams to the academy side, and has hit seven goals in 11 games as the young Eagles qualified for the Elite section of the Premier Academy League whilst also featuring for the development side.
“I'm very pleased, it's been a successful season so far and now I just need to keep pushing hard and try and get into the first-team,” he said. “It's been great to play with some of the older lads in the development side and I think my game is getting better on a daily basis.
“Gary Issott and Ben Garner have also been a big help as confidence has always been an issue with me and they've helped boost that and I've been playing better.”
Kaikai's academy manager Issott added: “It's a great story really, he came into the club as an under 17 on a non-contract basis so its like a supporter being able to come into the club and play for nothing.
"He's shown a great attitude and is the academy side's top scorer including three or four outstanding free-kicks and scored against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. He's had a very good season and he's been given a professional contract as a reward.”
Gray has only been at the club since the summer, having arrived from Wycombe Wanderers. He has made an instant impact though by scoring a number of goals from midfield.
He said: “I'm really chuffed, it was a shock seeing as I haven't been here very long but I was really happy when it came,” he said. “I've started a lot of games which is great seeing as I'm a first year and after a sticky start we pulled through and got six or seven wins on the bounce.
“Ben and Gary have improved my game quite a lot, especially my first touch, my passing and all round game sense.”
Issott added: “Wycombe's academy collapsed in the summer and as soon as we heard we moved really quickly and invited Jake's parents into the club and convinced him to sign for Crystal Palace.
“He's scored a couple of great goals and has put in some really good performances from wide areas. He's quick and strong and travels really well with the ball. He's an excellent wide player who works really hard for the team and he has a defensive side to his game too.”
Watch the full interviews with Sullay and Jake now on Palace Player.