There’s a good chance you never heard the name Josh Ajayi before but if the last few weeks are anything to go, he’s someone you’re likely to discover a great deal more about over the next year or so.
Over the weekend, Crystal Palace’s U18s and U16s took on Millwall, with the older of the two sides grinding out a 2-1 victory, whilst the U16s, including the aforementioned Ajayi, thumped the Lions 5-1.
Whilst the whole team were deserving of huge credit for their performance, it was Ajayi who stole the headlines, bagging four of the Eagles’ five goals on the day. Having been deployed as both a wing-back and an out-and-out winger over the course of the fixture, Josh was a constant thorn in the visitors’ side, providing his coaches with yet more evidence that he’ll be ready to make the step up to regular U18 football from the beginning of next season.
Having made his debut for Palace’s U18s aged just 14, Ajayi has long been looked upon as a potential star of the future by those in the know at the club’s Beckenham training base but it’s great to see him continuing to progress from week to week, rather than allowing a degree of comfort to sneak into his game.
I dare say there are a few supporters worrying about the possibility of a player of his potential being stolen away by a perceived “big club” but thankfully, Josh has already been offered a new contract in SE25 and, at the time of writing, is expected to remain on our books for the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
With Aaron Wan-Bissaka having made a major impact under Roy Hodgson in the last couple of months, Palace fans everywhere will be desperate to see one or two more youngsters being given the opportunity to impress before long and whilst Ajayi is some way off making his mark in the first-team, there are plenty of signs to suggest that he has the natural tools to get there one day, if he continues to make the strides he has in the last 12 months.