Eight members of Crystal Palace’s under 18 side have this week put pen to paper on their first professional deals with the club.
Will Hoare, Michael Phillips, Jacob Berkley-Agyepong, Christian Scales, Matthew George, Oliver O’Dwyer, Spencer Forte and Hussein Mohammed have all been given professional terms by the coaching staff, in the hope that a few will one day progress to become first-team regulars.
Perhaps the best-known names to Palace fans from the eight mentioned are Hoare and Phillips, with the latter of the pair picking up the coveted Academy Player of the Year trophy at this season’s awards show, with many inside the club full of faith for what the next few years have in store for him.
One of the major pitfalls of Premier League football is the difficulty that managers have in blooding any of the young talent that they have bubbling under the surface at academy level, but for Alan Pardew, the development of the club’s young players has been a regular source of discussion.
With a full pre-season campaign to come between now and August, we can fully expect to see the likes of Hiram Boateng, Sullay Kaikai and Jake Gray given a chance to impress throughout, with the eight younger squad members referenced above no doubt keen to see how their slightly more experienced colleagues manage under the guidance of the Palace boss.
Following the graduation of Wilfried Zaha and Jonny Williams in 2010/11, there has been something of a deceleration in the production line at SE25, but with this latest crop of academy prospects, there are high hopes across the training ground and rightly so.