BY SAM SMITH
Jonny Williams has urged Crystal Palace to keep hold of team-mate Wilfried Zaha – amid speculation that the prized forward could depart the club this summer.
The midfielder came through the Eagles’ academy and has gone on to play senior football at Selhurst Park alongside the Ivorian.
“Wilf is irreplaceable,” said the Wales international to eagles.cpfc.co.uk.
“It’s vital he stays at Palace, he’s been vital to the way we’ve played in recent years. Even in the play-off season you can see what he did to get us up, he was exceptional all season.
“And then to come back [from his loan at Manchester United] and to show the same kind of form, if not better. It shows that he’s kicked on to become a superstar now.
“He’s still the same person and that’s great for Palace. It’s great to be back playing alongside him.”
Williams is hoping that he too can play a key part for Palace under Roy Hodgson. The 24-year-old has appeared 66 times for the South Londoners since making his debut in 2011, although injuries and several loan spells have limited his chances to impress the various Palace managers that have come and gone since promotion in 2013.
But Williams has been provided with an opportunity to play under the former England manager this pre-season. He featured in the 6-1 victory over Halmstads and came on as a late substitute in the 3-1 win at Oxford United yesterday – coming inside from a wide position that he feels suits his playing style.
“I like to come inside and play as more of a central player because I have more bodies to play off and it suits the way I play. If I’m asked to play a role there then fantastic, if I’m given the freedom to come inside [from out wide] then that’s perfect. Hopefully the next few weeks go quickly so [the new season] can start again.
“It’s nice to be back in a Palace shirt. On a personal note I’m fit, playing well in training and games and that’s all I can ask of myself at the moment.
“It’s up to the staff and the manager to keep giving me opportunities and hopefully I stay fit and give myself the best chance [to impress].”
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