James McArthur has heaped praise on some of the newer members of the Eagles squad who are aiming to make their mark whilst in Cape Town.
As well as new signings Yohan Cabaye, Patrick Bamford and Alex McCarthy, Alan Pardew has brought development squad members Sullay Kaikai and Christian Scales on the trip to experience life on tour with the first-team, and the quintet have made an impression on McArthur.
Despite feeling like he’s part of the furniture in SE25, it was only nine months ago that the Scot was being introduced to the group, and he’s given an insight as to what life is like as the new boy and how the squad help to integrate new teammates.
He said: “The new signings have been great. We’ve got such good characters in this changing room that when I came down here last year they made me feel so welcome, and everyone does that for the new guys to make them feel a part of it.
“Group bonding is so important, it’s part of coming away to a foreign country. You all bond together and get closer to each other.
“The younger lads who have come into the group have been good too. They’ve been very professional and done well in training early on and that’s very important for Crystal Palace. You want to have young kids progressing and doing whatever it takes to try and push into the first-team.
“I have to give a special mention to Sullay Kaikai who has been very, very good for us, but these new boys need to keep progressing to get better.”
As well as the action on the field, including yesterday's 4-0 win against Supersport United, McArthur has been delighted with his progress on the training pitch throughout the past few weeks, and praised the squad for keeping themselves fit during the summer to give them the best chance of reaching their high standards set at the back end of last season.
On the pre-season so far, he said: “It’s been good, I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve come back in OK condition and I think a lot of the boys have too so I think we’re ready to hit the ground running which is important to carry the momentum on from last year.
“I obviously enjoyed last year and I want to do as well as I did then. I want to keep trying to improve which will make me better and help the team. Pre-season gives you that base to do that."
Sunday sees the Palace squad aim to pick up some silverware as they do battle with Sporting Lisbon in the Cape Town Cup final, and despite the tournament being labelled as a friendly one, he revealed that the Palace squad are itching to get their hands on the trophy.
“Since we’ve got to South Africa we’ve been working very hard and had a lot of double sessions which has been good. We’re working towards the start of the season as the days go by and I think we’re getting better and stronger.”
"We want to win it. We need to try and win it and carry the momentum and winning mentality that we had last season through into the new season and make sure we’re stronger for it, and winning the tournament would do that for us."