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Ladapo Reaping Tour Benefits

18 July 2016

Having had the opportunity to play in the Palace first-team for the first time during the Eagles' summer tour, striker Freddie Ladapo has fully enjoyed his trip across the Atlantic so far.

It was only back in March that he was still playing for non-league side Margate, but fast forward just a few short months and the 23-year-old was handed a starting berth by Alan Pardew for the match against Philadelphia Union last week.

He followed that up with more gametime against FC Cincinnati three days later and the attacker believes he has benefited from the opportunity to play and train alongside the club's star names.

"It's been a wonderful experience," he said. "I'd always hoped that I'd get an opportunity with the first-team here and I did and it's been very good. Six months ago I could never have imagined that I would be here, and not just being here but travelling, playing and being a proper part of it. I'm really grateful.

"The tour brings everyone together and creates a team spirit between us so it's helped me integrate well. There's always banter flying around and that's what football is about - having fun with your friends and teammates.

"Training has been wonderful too; every day I feel as though I'm improving because the coaches are really helping me. It's a huge step up but I'm working hard every day to get used to it and make it normal."

Ladapo's debut came in Philadelphia and while the game ended goalless he was a bundle of energy as the focal point of the Palace attack, and in Cincinnati he nearly registered his first goal for the club but was thwarted on a couple of occasions.

Ahead of the final game of the trip against Vancouver Whitecaps on Tuesday evening he is hoping that first goal will come, and with five more friendly matches scheduled before West Bromwich Albion come to town on 13th August, the Romford-born marksman is hoping his meteoric rise doesn't stop here.

On his debut, he said: "It was tough - the weather didn't help being so hot but it was a very good step up for me. With more time I'll start to show some more good things which I have done in the games here.

"There has been a tremendous amount of fans during the tour and it's been wonderful to see - at every training session you see them there and we've also seen some great crowds too. The Cincinnati game was amazing; I'd hoped I would have scored in that and I had a couple of chances, but it was brilliant to play in front of a crowd that big.

"Hopefully I can score some goals now during the rest of pre-season and do as well as I can up front because it is a difficult position to play, and hopefully create a little something in the gaffer's mind."

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