After spending a week around the first-team squad in South Africa, defender Christian Scales is hungry for another opportunity to try and impress Alan Pardew.
The left-back only arrived at the Eagles on trial for the under-18 side last October but gradually progressed into the under-21s after being handed a short-term deal, but his displays for Gary Issott’s side towards the end of the season saw him handed a longer contract.
Having been named as part of the touring party for the Cape Town Cup, the 18-year-old came on against Supersport United last week to make his first appearance for the first-team, and having returned to England he has discussed the benefit of being at close quarters with the Eagles’ stars.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “Obviously it was great to be around the lads as it’s a step up from what I’ve been used to but it’s been good to get me going and being around the first-team which is where I want to be in the future.
“The boys were great, they invited me to do stuff and were really welcoming. Having moved from the under-21 squad it’s also good to have them help me along, they’ve been really good at that.”
Scales played the final half hour of Palace’s victory over the South African side, and he admits that when he saw his shirt hanging up in the Cape Town Stadium’s changing room it was a moment he’ll never forget, as well as stepping onto the turf to play for the Eagles.
“It was an honour to go over there with the club and play for them in a first-team game,” he added.
“It was something I’ve always wanted to do and you dream about it as a little boy. To see my name on the back of the shirt and have a number is wonderful, especially to then run out in a big stadium like that.”
Now the trip is over, Scales is hoping that he can again taste life around the Palace’s first-team squad in the coming friendly matches before the start of the Premier League season next week, but whatever happens believes that his week in Cape Town will stand him in good stead for the season ahead.
“The main thing I’ll take from the trip is the positivity it’s given me,” he revealed. “It was great being over there and I can use that as a stepping stone as it has given me the confidence to move forward.
“I’ve also learned to listen more, taking things on board quicker and help the team. If I can help them as much as they have helped me then that would be good. I just want to take small steps and move forwards, but obviously as quick as possible
“I was with the squad for a week and I want more of it, I want to be there longer. That’s where I want to be and the boys are the benchmark that I have to get to.”