BY MATT WOOSNAM
Crystal Palace youngster Sam Woods spoke of his pride at being the latest academy graduate to progress into the first team despite a 1-0 defeat by Middlesbrough.
Palace were knocked out of the EFL Cup after Lewis Wing’s superb strike just before half-time on Teesside, with Roy Hodgson’s second string side failing to find any rhythm.
But Woods was brought on with 12 minutes remaining following Pape Souare’s injury and became the ninth academy graduate to debut since the club was taken out of administration in 2010.
“It’s mixed emotions really,” he told Palace TV
“Obviously I’m really disappointed to be out of the cup but very happy to have made my debut.
“I was just trying to impact the game. I had that one at the end at the corner where I just tried to head it across the goal but no one could get on the end of it unfortunately. I feel like I did okay when I came on.”
The 20-year old, who has supported the club since he was a boy, has excelled for the U23 side over the past 18 months and he explained that he had to be focused on the game prior to his introduction
“You prepare yourself as soon as you know you’re in the squad. You can’t just be sitting on the bench watching, you’ve always got to be involved in the game. As soon as I realised I was in the squad, I was preparing myself to come on at any time.
“[Roy Hodgson] just said ‘good luck, try and impact the game.’ It was really reassuring and it made me feel quite calm and relaxed. I think [in the] second half, we dominated the game and just couldn’t get that goal unfortunately.
“I’m just trying to learn every day in training and, even in the game today, I’m learning all the time. That’s all I’m trying to do at the moment.
“My dad and my sister were in the stands so it was really nice, they came up to support and I saw them at the end.”