May 10 2012
Teenage attacking midfielder Jon Williams commiting his future to Crystal Palace is a massive boost for the club, writes Daniel Grigg.
The 18-year-old scored his first professional goal in a midweek Carling Cup fixture against Wigan back in September, less than a month after his debut off the subs' bench in a 2-1 home win over Coventry.
Despite suffering a leg break in November while on international duty for Wales U21s, which looked to have cut short a very promising breakthrough season for the youngster, he also contributed four assists.
All in all he may only have played less than 16 hours of first team football but the talent is already evident. It is enough to secure a surprisingly long contract for a Championship player - right through until 2017 - as Palace look to keep hold of their impressive Academy stars.
Williams has been capped seven times already at U21 level despite only being 18 and is a talent U21 manager Brian Flynn has been keen to harness.
He might be one of the smallest and youngest in Dougie Freedmanís present squad, but Williamsí technical abilities and that combination of bravery, confidence and energy about the pitch have already led him to really stand out.
His first touch and awareness of space and position are both top notch for his age. While that willingness to run and try things, along with his home grown status, have unsurprisingly turned him into something of a crowd favourite at Selhurst Park. This is unlikely to change now after committing a decent amount of his future to the club this week.
There are weaknesses of course as with any youngster, which have to be worked upon along with the strengths. Like many talented young creative midfielders, his finishing in front of goal still needs work and is a bit hit and miss. While other areas of the game like crossing and defensive positioning could also be improved upon in the long run. But these are all things can all be sorted in time.
What Palace have now is an 18 year old committed and talented midfielder who can dribble with confidence, spot a pass really well and isnít going to be scared or put-off by the challenges and general physicality of professional football in this country. And that, for next season and beyond, is a very pleasant prospect indeed for the Palace faithful.
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