BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Roy Hodgson expects to have a right-back selection conundrum next season after Crystal Palace completed the signing of Nathan Ferguson this week.
The 19-year-old – an England U20 international – was announced as their first summer capture.
Ferguson was going to sign for the Eagles in January but a medical flagged up a knee injury which required surgery.
He will compete with Joel Ward for a starting spot down that side. The latter has come back into the side after Palace sold Aaron Wan-Bissaka to Manchester United in a £50million deal.
Hodgson said: “We are congratulating ourselves on having signed a top-class young player who, we think, is the right way forward for us and a player who, even from the offset, will be a real candidate for a place in the starting 11.
“It was good to see him at the training ground, meet him, have a long conversation and welcome him to the club.
“He’s still recovering from injury, so he wouldn’t have been able to join in training even had we wanted him to and, secondly, there’s a tribunal which has to fix the amount of the transfer fee, so nothing can happen in that respect.”
Palace chairman Steve Parish said he was impressed by the youngster on and off the pitch, and Hodgson is looking to bring youthful exuberance into an ageing and injured squad.
“The football club here through the years has always looked for qualities off the pitch in terms of people who conduct themselves well, who have a good attitude towards the game of football and in terms of their respect for their fellow players and for the fans and everyone working around the club,” he said.
“And, of course, we also want players with good character, because that’s what’s seen us through well these last three years – the character of the players.
“There’s been lots of difficult moments and lots of moments where we’ve been short of players or suffering from injury or not being able to sign the players and strengthen the squad as we’d have wanted to do and yet our character has really taken us through those moments.
“We’re all very much aware that one should never underestimate that character, that desire to work hard, that respect you have for other people, your upbringing. Because if you’ve got those qualities then all you need to have is some footballing skills because you’re going to make it.
“Unfortunately, there are lots and lots of footballers who have had skills but they’ve been let down by other qualities outside of their footballing skills, so we as a club are determined to try and make certain we steer away from anyone who might be in that category and to go for players in the category of Nathan Ferguson.”
Picture: Dan Weir/PPAUK for CPFC
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