Crystal Palace forward Kwesi Appiah hopes his loan move to AFC Wimbledon is just the formula to get onto Tony Pulis’ radar for next season.
Appiah joined Palace from non-League side Margate in 2012 but has only made 10 first team appearances, and he is now on his fifth loan spell away from the club.
The 23-year-old from south-east London has had mixed success – he scored 10 in 14 for Conference side Cambridge United before Christmas, but failed to find the net in five substitute appearances for Notts County in League One between January and March.
However, after making his Wimbledon home debut on Saturday in the goalless draw with Bristol Rovers, he feels the setting is right for him to help the Dons maintain their Football League status and for him to develop as a player.
“It was the best fit for me, most definitely,” he said.
“There were a few clubs in League Two interested and a few clubs in the Conference as well. I live in London and the other offers I had were a bit different geographically so this worked out best, and once I spoke to the manager, the stuff he was talking about was spot on as well.
“First of all he wants me to work hard and he knows I’ve got the quality to do certain things on the pitch, and he’s given me the confidence to do that.”
A quick forward, who likes to drop off and receive the ball to feet and get at the centre backs, Appiah showed his intelligence on Saturday as he linked well with Jack Midson.
Dons boss Neal Ardley praised his movement and described him as “technically very good with a lovely first touch” and hopes he can fire the Dons up the table during a deal until the end of the season.
Appiah signed a new contract with Palace in January to the end of next season with the option of a two-year extension, and hopes that a combination of hard work and stability at the club will enable him to break into the side.
The club is now onto their third permanent manager since he joined and, having not been selected for the Premier League squad by Ian Holloway and being out on loan when Pulis was appointed, he has had little chance to impress the current boss.
He feels, though, that when his chance does come for him play at the top level, he is ready and his loan experiences will have only helped him.
“I’ve had my loan spells, but it’s been a tricky period,” he said.
“The manager turn-over has been a bit difficult for me, different managers have different opinions and once a new manager comes in you’ve got start off fresh and show them what you’re about.
“Dougie Freedman bought me and he most definitely gave me my chance and I appreciate that.
"I’ve had a few appearances under other managers but this season in the Premier League it’s been difficult because if you’re not in the squad, you can’t play.
“To be attached to a Premier League team is a big thing, and to sign a new contract is quite exciting, and hopefully I can find my feet and they can stay in the Premier League, and then I can see if I can break into the team.”
In blue and red: Kwesi Appiah takes on the Barnsley defence as a Palace man
Appiah admits the jump from Margate, in the Ryman Premier League, along with Kingstonian and Carshalton Athletic, to Palace was massive but believes the experience from his loan deals and time spent at Peterborough United has eased the transition from being a semi-professional player to one attached to the Premier League.
“In terms of the quality you bring to the game, it’s different at different levels, so if you’ve got what it takes, you’ve got what it takes no matter what level you’re playing,” he said.
While many professionals at his age may struggle to live beyond the moment, Appiah knows football is a short career and has already started planning for the future.
He started studying accountancy at the Open University, passing his first level one exam last week, and he believes something that engages his mind off the pitch can only help on it.
“It can give you an edge, mentally you’re quite sharp so even though it’s not about numbers on the pitch, you’re thinking about movements and where you’re going to be and it keeps your mind sharp.
“Most players do coaching badges, and stuff like that, that’s all relevant to football, and accounting is a different avenue but it can also still be relevant to football, because football’s a business at the end of the day.”