Having been the only outfield player to have notched up 90 minutes in red and blue this evening against FC Luzern, Development player Sam Woods was understandably happy following Crystal Palace’s closely fought clash in the Uhrencup.
The 20-year-old defender started the game at right back before swapping roles to cover the centre of defence and help to guide his side to victory.
Woods, a lifelong Palace fan, trains regularly with the first team and made his debut for them as the south Londoners faced Middlesbrough in the League Cup last October.
Reflecting on his pre-season performance post-match, the Development prospect offered a positive assessment of his and his fellow Under-23 teammates’ performance, saying: “It feels really good to get 90 minutes in the legs so soon. It was tough, especially towards the end of the second half but I was just trying to battle through and I got there in the end.
“I thought we did well when we came on – the [Development] players that started on the bench and then came on. It’s hard to come on especially with so many changes against the flow of the game but I thought everyone did well.”
With each of the lads called up by Roy Hodgson to practice the step up in standards putting in a solid shift tonight, it was hard to single one out as the most notable performer. However, 19-year-old Nya Kirby exhibited steely nerves to slot home from 12-yards ultimately as Palace’s final penalty taker.
Woods, naturally, expressed his pride and faith in the England Under-19 midfielder.
“I was really happy for Nya,” he said. “I mean I already know he’s a good penalty taker, he scored one for England obviously and he’s our penalty taker for the Under-23s so I had no doubts when he stepped up to take it that he was going to score.”
But supporting the Development team through this week’s pre-season challenge is a cohort of Palace players with a wealth of experience under their belts and a readiness to support their younger colleagues.
“They’re brilliant,” Woods said of the first-team squad he has trained with for over a year. “As soon as I came in when I was younger they always took me in well and it’s good to have players like good pros like Dannsy and Mama and Tonks who teach you especially as a centre half, little things and stuff like that. It’s great to have that experience to learn off.”
For further post-match reaction and full highlights, make sure to keep an eye on Palace TV either by clicking here or by clicking ‘Palace TV’ on the official Palace app.