After nearly two months without football, Crystal Palace begin their pre-season campaign this evening with a match against FC Luzern in the Uhrencup.
While these early fixtures are mainly about building up fitness and avoiding injury ahead of a gruelling Premier League campaign, pre-season can often present youngsters and fringe players with the opportunity to impress the coaching staff.
Before his remarkable breakthrough into the Palace first team, Aaron Wan-Bissaka had made the pre-season squad for the 2017/18 Asia Cup under Frank De Boer.
While it remains to be seen if any of the current crop of young talent will be able to emulate Wan-Bissaka’s rise to prominence, it is a promising sign that so many of them have been offered a chance to impress in Switzerland, with seven of the 24 players in the travelling party coming from the Crystal Palace development squad.
With the Eagles yet to sign an outfield player this transfer window, these youngsters will no doubt be looking to convince Roy Hodgson that they have what it takes to make the step up and play a role in the upcoming season.
As Crystal Palace prepare to kick off their pre-season campaign, we’ve decided to take a look at the seven youngsters to have made the first team squad for the tour of Switzerland.
A diminutive left footed poacher, Daly had a hugely impressive 2017/18 season where he scored plenty of goals at both Under-18 and Under-23 level and won the Scholar of the Year award. On the back of that season, Daly was given a one-year professional extension and sent out on loan to Kingstonian FC for the duration of 2018/19. After a successful loan spell, the young striker signed a fresh deal in June, and will no doubt be keen to prove he has what it takes to score goals at a higher level.
The tricky Irish midfielder links up with the first team squad on the back of a strong season with the Under-23 squad. Throughout the 2018/19 season Richard Shaw and the rest of the coaching staff worked particularly hard with Flanagan, in order to improve his end-product, and the move has clearly payed off. Flanagan finished the season as joint top scorer for the Under-23 squad as well as winning Crystal Palace’s Young Player of the Year award.
An Under-17 World Cup winner with England in 2017, Kirby is a hugely exciting talent. In 2018, the former Tottenham youngster was given a four-year contract in recognition of his great potential. The dynamic, creative midfielder spent the second half of last season on loan at Blackpool in League One. Kirby became a first team regular for the Tangerines, picking up the Blackpool Player of the Month award for April as well as earning a great deal of praise for his good performances from fans and management alike.
Another exciting young central midfielder, Dreher burst on to the scene in the 2015/16 season and was named on the bench against Manchester United in April 2016 at only 17 years old. Dreher was named captain of the Under-23 squad before a horrific spell of injuries drastically limited his game time over the next couple of seasons. Dreher has battled back to full fitness and was handed his professional debut against Bournemouth by Roy Hodgson on the final day of last season.
A lifelong Palace fan, Woods is a popular figure at the club having played at Palace from Under-12 level upwards, including captaining the Under-16 squad. Last season Woods made his professional debut in the Carabao Cup match against Middlesbrough, having worked his way up from a season ticket holder in the Family Stand to representing the first team. Despite having made just the one professional appearance, Woods is a regular in the first-team squad and will no doubt be targeting more professional minutes for Palace in the upcoming season.
The exciting Croatian Under-20 international was picked up by Palace in 2016 following the closure of Brentford’s Academy. Tavares, a composed centre-back, was named on the bench for the final game of last season against Bournemouth. In recognition of the progress he made last season, Tavares was handed a fresh deal at the start of July, keeping him at the club for another season.
One of the lesser-known youngsters to have made the pre-season squad, Mitchell, like Tavares joined Palace as a result of Brentford’s Academy’s closure. Mitchell is a lightning fast, attacking left-back who loves defending in one-on-one situations. He played an important role for both the Under-18s and Under-23s in 2017/18 and helped both squads win silverware. Last season Mitchell played regularly for the Under-23 squad as well as often training with the first team.