Freedman proud of his Palace youngsters
Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman heaped praise on his young Eagles after their busy Easter period - and promised there is much more to come from the promising crop.
Freedman gave teenager Kyle de Silva his first league start against league leaders Southampton on Monday in a team which also contained young academy graduates Nathaniel Clyne, Wilfried Zaha, Sean Scannell and Matt Parsons - as well as 21 year-old Stuart O’Keefe with 16-year-old Ryan Inniss on the bench.
It meant the Eagles’ starting XI had an average age of just 23, compared to Southampton’s more experienced line-up which had an average age of almost 28.
And although Palace were put to the sword 2-0 by two clinical Rickie Lambert goals - handing the Eagles their first back-to-back home defeats this season and their third defeat in a row - Freedman was delighted with the team’s performance and the youngsters.
"The young lads did tremendously well, there were terrific performances by Matt Parsons and Kyle de Silva," he said.
"If we look at both clubs and understand where we are in our development I am very happy.
"Three or four years ago Southampton were probably in League One and starting the process of developing.
"We are at the beginning of that process but in the Championship.
"The youngsters were terrific and there is a real togetherness with the young players.
"The crowd stayed with us as well and every fan of Crystal Palace knows what we are trying to do and are behind them.
"We had six young players out there and it was a fantastic display."
The Palace boss reserved special praise for de Silva, who almost scored his first goal for the Eagles but his rasping drive was saved by Kelvin Davis.
"He is only 17 years of age and a pleasure to work with every day and he has been knocking on the door for the past two months," he added.
"I just felt it was the right occasion to give him a go and he didn’t let himself down.
"There are one or two young players I am finding more and more about.
"I am proud of what I have seen - proud of the fans and proud of the young players.
"I understand what I have got to do next season to move it forward.
"We did not roll over against Southampton. We were not bullied and we were not outplayed."
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