Crystal Palace U23 striker James Daly has been making something of a name for himself in recent weeks and following his eye-catching hat-trick against QPR on Monday, his manager Richard Shaw has given the impression that the teenager has what it takes to go all the way.
The waves Daly has made of late come after more than a year of impressive displays within the U18 side, where he had been made captain by Paddy McCarthy as a consequence of his tireless work-rate and application.
Predominantly left-footed, Daly has been known to play as both a left full-back and a left winger but it is when he’s deployed as an out-and-out striker that James personally feels he truly flourishes. Whilst most youngsters will automatically favour the role of a goal-scorer, there seems to be real logic behind the academy man’s claims, with five goals in two games against Watford and the aforementioned Hoops pointing towards a potentially bright future for him.
Whilst academies across the country are full to the brim with technically gifted individuals, the glowing appraisals Daly has received from both of his Palace coaches points towards an extremely old head on young shoulders, who understands that there’s far more to making it in the professional game than flicks, tricks and statistics.
You don’t need me to remind you that as a club, we’ve struggled to produce any genuine first-team regulars since the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Sean Scannell and Jonny Williams made their way through the ranks at the turn of the decade. Our presence in the Premier League has undoubtedly played a huge part in that but even so, it’s nice to think that in Daly, we may finally be on the verge of seeing another youngster break into the side for more than a couple of cameo appearances in the early rounds of the League Cup.
Understandably, Roy Hodgson’s immediate focus will be on keeping the club afloat in the top tier between now and May but I and I’m sure plenty of others are hoping to see James progress to the fringes of the first-team over the course of pre-season.