A decade on from signing an academy contract at Crystal Palace, 23-year-old centre-back Ryan Inniss made his professional debut for the club on Tuesday night away at Swansea, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 win for Roy Hodgson’s side.
Drafted into the XI as a consequence of James Tomkins’ calf strain and concerns over fatigue for Mamadou Sakho ahead of this weekend’s Premier League clash with Southampton at Selhurst Park, Ryan impressed alongside Martin Kelly, growing into the game as it went and looking a threat in the air throughout.
Standing at 6’5, it’s no wonder a host of lower league clubs have been happy to take him on loan in recent years, with eight separate spells at the likes of Colchester, Luton and Port Vale giving him a grounding within the game from which to build upon. In total, Ryan has managed 69 appearances during his numerous short-term stints elsewhere, scoring once for Luton Town but never quite building a solid enough reputation to suggest he has a footballing future at Selhurst Park.
Off-field problems have stalked him too, a fact that he’s happy to open up about when prompted. It would be incredibly easy for a young player to shy away from questions about his personal circumstances but it is to Ryan’s credit that he approaches those queries in a free and easy way.
Whilst he is unlikely to dislodge the likes of Sakho, Tomkins or Martin Kelly from their place in the first-team hierarchy off the back of a single EFL Cup performance, the mere fact that he’s now made his first-team debut should be looked upon by both he and Palace’s coaches as a significant milestone in his still young career.
Could this be the start of something great for Inniss and the Eagles? After 10 years with us, he’ll now be feeling more hopeful than ever before and that is to both his and Roy Hodgson’s credit.