A year or so ago, the name of Sam Woods wouldn’t have been on the radar of many Palace fans but after his inclusion in the starting line-up for last week’s League Cup tie at home to Colchester, Roy Hodgson has been full of praise for the academy graduate.
Having supported the club from an early age, Sam has a connection to the fans in the stands already and has spoken to explain as much during interviews with the official media team but on the pitch, he’s rightly being lavished with praise for what was a mature and impressive display on a generally disappointing evening for the Eagles.
With what is probably best described as a straightforward approach to the game, Sam is gradually proving that he belongs at first-team level and after looking anything but out of place under the lights at Selhurst, you’d hope it won’t be long until he’s given a few minutes at Premier League level.
Discussing the youngster’s display against the U’s in his programme notes ahead of our game against Aston Villa last Saturday, Roy Hodgson said:
“Credit must go to Sam Woods, who was awarded a first professional start for Crystal Palace [against Colchester United].
Sam is a determined young man who is developing well by spending his time with the first team and he has equipped himself well when required. He must keep working hard, but I feel he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Whilst platitudes like this don’t act a guarantee of further progression within the first-team set-up, Sam is clearly doing a great deal to impress the vastly experienced Hodgson and has now imposed himself at professional level which for many academy players, is the biggest hurdle to overcome throughout their career. Of course, with the experience we currently have at the back it won’t be an easy task for him to break in but the signs so far this term are extremely positive.