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McCarthy Hopes For Productive First Season

15 August 2015

New Palace goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has his sights set on the number one spot and a place in the England set up ahead of EURO 2016, having "had a taste" of life with the Three Lions during his spell at Reading.

"My main aim is to establish myself as number one, to play as many games as possible and to try to break back into the England squad," he said. "I had a taste of that at Reading and now I wanted to get back there."

Despite his ambition and self-belief, the 25-year-old knows that it won't be easy, given that he is competing with Eagles legend Julian Speroni and Wales' number one Wayne Hennessey to be first choice in SE25.

"I don’t think any manager can really ensure you’re going to play a lot," he admitted. "There are two other great goalkeepers here and that makes for some healthy competition. Unfortunately for Jules he hurt his finger in pre-season and is out injured, so I’m lucky to have been given the chance.

"I’ve got a lot of belief in myself. I’ve already done it [at Reading] and I’d like to think that I could do it here," he said, in reference to his time at the Madejski stadium, where he displaced first-choice goalkeeper Adam Federici. 

"Hopefully I can be playing week in, week out and the manager will give me the chance to do that. I’m confident in my own ability and looking forward to the season ahead.

"It was a disappointing season for me with QPR last season, which ended with us getting relegated. But I’ve come to Palace and we have a really strong team and this is what I wanted."

Alex has been impressed with what he's seen since joining the Eagles from Queens Park Rangers in July, saying: "The training ground looks really good. I spoke to a few of the boys when I first got here and they said that the training ground has really improved from last season. It’s excellent. The boys are excellent, a really good group of lads and I’ve settled in well."

The goalkeeper has been very impressed with fellow Palace new boy Yohan Cabaye - who made his competitive debut for the club in the same game as McCarthy, away at Norwich City last Saturday.

"He’s been exceptional, not just in training; you see how much of a true professional he is off the pitch as well," he said about the France international. "In training he’s lifted the squad, he’s looked sharp in everything he does and that brings the best out of everyone else. I think the disappointment he felt at PSG has made him hungrier this season."

It's not just Palace's record signing that has impressed McCarthy since he swapped west London for the pride of south London, praising manager Alan Pardew's professionalism when preparing for matches.

"For me personally, I’ve seen how much of a professional he is," he said. "He plans everything out, he goes through things in training and talks to you, he’s so professional – and you can see that on the pitch. Since he’s come in, the results have been excellent. His philosophy – not just his style-of-play – has filtered through the squad and really helped on a matchday."

The next matchday for the Eagles comes tomorrow, when Arsene Wenger and Arsenal visit Selhurst Park for the opening home game of the 2015-16 Premier League season.

"It was a massive start for us, getting the three points [at Norwich]," he said. "There were positives and it gives us confidence going into Sunday’s game against Arsenal. 

"Obviously they’ll be disappointed with their first game and how it went, so they’ll want to bounce straight back. We know the qualities of Arsenal and have been working ourselves all week, so we’re prepared and ready to face them on Sunday.

"I think with the business they’ve done in the summer, they look really strong," he added, discussing the Gunners' pre-season. "If they could bring in another striker, they would have an unbelievable squad and a real chance [of challenging for the title]."

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