With both Connor Wickham and Alexander Sørloth currently unavailable for first-team selection thanks to injury, fans are searching for an alternative to Christian Benteke and in U23 striker James Daly, we may one day have the answer.
Whilst the Brighton native readily admits to Mark Ritson in the interview above that he was a boyhood Seagulls fan, their youth coaches’ rejection, coupled with the Palace’s academy’s decision to bring him on board has seen his allegiances switch in recent years.
James hasn’t always played as an out-and-out striker but over the last year or so, he’s really begun to flourish up top; scoring goals with the sort of regularity that was always bound to get him noticed by the Palace faithful.
Since signing terms with us back in 2014, Daly has shown himself to be comfortable operating as a winger on either flank as well as a wing-back, alongside his recent move to the head of the XI under Richard Shaw’s guidance. It is thanks to that level of versatility, alongside a readiness to lead which prompted Paddy McCarthy to make him the U18s captain, that I and plenty of others feel he has an extremely bright future within the game.
Having only just turned 18, James still has a way to go before Roy Hodgson is likely to throw him in at first-team level but with Daly himself keen to impress and move up the ladder as quickly as possible, a loan move at the start of next season seems like the most obvious step to take for the sake of his progression both on and off the field.
It’s a long time since Clinton Morrison made the jump from the Palace academy to start scoring regular goals for the first-team. Hopefully James Daly has what it takes to emulate the 100-goal man in red and blue for years to come.