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October 1 2023 3.52pm

Young Eagles ready to fly

September 10 2003

Lance Cronin

Lance Cronin

Steve Kember is backing the young Eagles who made an impressive impact in Saturday's 'friendly' against Brescia to make the first-team grade as cover this season, writes Joesph O'Shea

Sixteen-year-old substitute Tyrone Berry scored Palace's third in the 4-3 defeat, while Academy goalkeeper Lance Cronin and Tom Soares started alongside established first-team graduates Wayne Routledge, Gary Borrowdale and Ben Watson.

Tariq Nabil, Glen Wilson and Ben Surey all came on as substitutes, enhancing Palace's long-standing reputation as a producer of home-grown talent.

Kember said: "You need to look at players in bigger games to see if they have got the ability to cope with the higher level. There were a lot of pluses and it was encouraging to see the way they handled themselves."

Their prospects to make the first team this season are limited, but Kember has seen enough to hope the youngsters will make the kind of impact others have.

He said: "You need a mixture of experience and a sprinkling of young ones. You look at Ben, Wayne and Gary - they have come on leaps and bounds but they were in and out last year. You know from the experience they gained last year that you can stick them in without worrying.

"It will depend on injuries and the state of the way the season goes. But it saves you having to spend money or go out and get loan players who might be on higher wages."

Palace go to Sunderland's Stadium of Light on Saturday boosted by the return of Curtis Fleming after long-term injury. Derry (knee), Freedman (hamstring) and Neil Shipperley (knee) are all doubtful, but Kember thinks: "two out of the three will be fit." Tony Popovic completes his three match suspension and will return alongside Darren Powell and Kit Symons against Bradford on Tuesday.

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