Crystal Palace academy director Gary Issott has described Ryan Inniss as “an extraordinary professional” – and hopes the centre-back goes on to make a success of his career.
The 25-year-old defender, born in Penge, was one of the most highly-rated players on the Eagles books as a teenager and attracted interest from Manchester City before penning professional terms. But the former England U17 international could not live up to the hype and had a number of loan spells away from SE25 before joined Charlton on a permanent basis in October 2020.
“There’s no doubt that Ryan at 16 or 17 was an England player and, on that basis, one of the best two or three centre-halves in the country,” Issott, who has been at Palace for 18 seasons, told the South London Press. “He was definitely sought-after and we had to work really hard to keep him because of that attention.
“At that time I absolutely believed he would play in the Championship and the Premier League, at some stage.
“There is no doubt it takes longer for a centre-half to get in peoples’ first-team, because it is a position of trust. You are the last line of defence, so you wait that little longer to get your debut.
“Ryan had a lot of loans curtailed by injury and it was all various types of injury, nothing you could say was a point of weakness that gave him broken seasons. Any player will tell you that once you have an injury mid-season it is hard to get back to where you were; a six-to-eight-week injury is the same as having a summer break. You never feel you’re quite given that patience that people afford you to get yourself right, like they do in pre-season. You get rushed back and there is an expectation you can get back quicker than normal. You might need four weeks of doing a couple of 60s and 90s, then you’d be deemed ready. That doesn’t get afforded to players, generally, mid-season.
“As a centre-half he is now just approaching his potential peak. He has learned so much with his loans and experiences of different managers. I really hope he stays injury free. He is an extraordinary professional – someone you would love to have in your dressing room. I hope in the second half of his career he can really push on. He is at a wonderful club and I think he was a boyhood fan of them as well.”
Inniss joined Palace’s academy at the age of 14.
“He’s positive – full of fun and humour,” said Issott. “He is a great lad and a good team player. He sets the right standards and if he feels you are falling below those standards he is not afraid to have a difficult conversation.
“He is a terrific player to have in your squad. He does it right. He lives his life right off the pitch – nutrition, rest and recovery. He has just been so unlucky. He had a massive growth spike at 16 and 17 that probably affected his ability to stay on the pitch at that time.
“It is very difficult to sustain training every day and managing your body. I also remember he had his collarbone pulled out in an innocuous challenge when helping prepare the first-team for a game. He had some real rotten luck.
“He was good on the ball for someone so big and he attacked balls like no-one else in his own box, and the halfway line, that I’d seen at that age. He had the ability to pick up the flight of the ball and dominate his opponent. He was fearless, sometimes to his own cost. He’d go for things he wasn’t quite favourite for, because he wanted to show his commitment levels to the senior lads.
“He was slightly unlucky that the Palace first-team grew so quickly. When he signed we were a Championship club that had just come out of administration. New owners came in and the club went so quickly. To get in the first-team becomes even harder in the Premier League, because the level and responsibility of staying in the Premier League is huge.”
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