We bring you the latest views of Steve Parish from his 'Steve Says' column in the match programme for the game against Huddersfield Town.
For the second time this campaign, I would like to welcome to everyone from Huddersfield Town to Selhurst Park this evening.
They have had a good start, and if the opening day is anything to go by, we are in for a tough fixture tonight. Whilst the first-team results this season have been disappointing, it has been incredibly encouraging to see some of players from our youth system progress. As well as Wilfried Zaha and Sullay Kaikai, we’re beginning to see the fruits of the academy’s labour.
I would like to congratulate Jason Lokilo and Levi Lumeka on making their professional debuts over the past few weeks. Jason arrived from Anderlecht last year, and despite not spending too long with the academy he has progressed from the under-18s through to the development side and after impressing in pre-season, started the victory against Ipswich Town in the last round.
Levi meanwhile has been at the club since the age of 15 and has followed the same path, and I know that Paddy McCarthy, Richard Shaw and all the staff involved at the academy are immensely proud to see the pair feature for the first-team. With Michael Phillips, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Nya Kirby also getting game time in pre-season, it shows that the door to the first-team squad is wide open.
Another boost for our academy has been the international call-ups handed to Nya Kirby and Kian Flanagan. Nya’s contribution to England has seen them reach the Under-17s World Cup which takes place next month in India and we’re hopeful that he’ll be selected for the trip, while Kian is set to play for the Republic of Ireland in some UEFA Under-19 European Championship qualifiers. I would like to wish them both good luck, and hope they do their countries – and their club – proud.
Once again this summer, we have invested in the academy and provided them with much better pitches and facilities to try and help everyone reach their potential. This has been a continual project over the past few seasons, and will remain a focus as we aim to become a club that is famous for developing young talent once again.
Palace Ladies have also had a fantastic start to the season, which has seen them score 30 goals in their first four games. The guidance of chairman Richard Spokes, and all the volunteers who put in their time and effort, is clearly paying dividends, and they are now a well-organised and well-structured club, giving opportunities for women to get involved in the game at all levels. Long may it continue.
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