Best mates Javen and Reise keen to impress at Palace
Championship side Crystal Palace have always been regarded as an impressive haven of more youthful talent, continuing their endless production line of finely nurtured stars that has successfully gone on to compete in the first team and then further afield onto the Premier League such as in the more recent cases of Ben Watson, John Bostock, Victor Moses and Nathaniel Clyne to name a few.
Add into the mix icons such as Ian Wright who started their career at the South London club and current Eagles star Wilfred Zaha, the Crystal Palace academy has set the benchmark in terms of fast tracking fledgling individuals in their great footballing education.
Two players who currently find themselves in the academy ranks are best mates and fellow strikers Javen Palmer and Reise Allassani (pictured) who are both first year academy scholars hell bent on proving their worth to Dougie Freedman and ultimately making the break through via the trusted old fast track passage.
Allassani has impressed particularly and has even been recognised at England Under-16 level as well as forcing his way into the current Under-21 side at Palace but there are also high hopes for Javen Palmer who is inspired to follow his friend in his successes.
Last season at Selhurst Park, the likes of Kyle De Silva and Ryan Inniss managed to make the meteoric rise from academy to senior squad ranks and messrs Palmer and Allassani see no reason why they cannot be the next to adjust to the transition.
Total Football’s Taylor Williams caught up with the pair to discuss targets, what their strengths are and how important it is to have a close friend around in their shared experience as aspiring footballers.
You are both still young but we have seen the likes of Kyle De Silva and Ryan Inniss make the Crystal Palace senior squad last season. Dougie Freedman has continually put his faith in youth at Selhurst Park. What are your realistic ambitions for this season?
Palmer: I think that if I have a good season and I reach my targets like I believe I will then I think I can be in the squad in the next year or two personally.
Allassani: Yeah, I’ve been playing in the Under-21 side for Palace and hopefully if I play well I will get a chance to play with the seniors.
You have played as strikers alongside one another. Name three good attributes a good striker must possess?
Palmer: They need to be quick, have good awareness and possess good technique.
Allassani: Pace, is able to finish and good movement.
You are close pals having known each other from an early age. How important is it to have an ally in your development as a footballer and to go through shared experiences together?
Palmer: I’ve known Reise since I was nine so it helps and he’s been doing really well. I always look to him as my inspiration and he’s done it now so I need to get there. I think being a really good friend helps me in a way – to stay motivated. When he steps up, I think yeah, I’ve got to do that as well.
Allassani: It’s good and we’re both doing well. When one of us is doing better than the other, it will spur the other one on and we want to get better and better.
How did you meet Reise? Was it through school?
Palmer: No, he was here at nine and then I came on trial and ever since this, we’ve been the best of friends.
Reise has played for England at Under-16 level. Have you played for the youth groups at all?
Palmer: I haven’t played for England as of yet but I am just concentrating on the Crystal Palace youth team at the moment.
Tell us how you both got involved in football. When did you realise this was the career for you?
Palmer: I’ve always played football since I was young and I just started out at a Sunday league team like most usually do. I played for a team called Cray Wanderers from South London.
Allassani: I was at a Crystal Palace summer camp when I was about eight years old and I was lucky enough to get picked up from there.
Crystal Palace are renowned as a well-supported, traditional family club. Tell us more about what it means to play for the Eagles?
Palmer: It’s a great honour and I enjoy it. The fans are so friendly, even on Twitter, they are always tweeting me nice stuff so it’s helpful and you know you are at Palace so there’s a greater chance of getting in the first team at a young age.
Allassani: It’s the closest club to where I live, the fans are great and it’s a great club in developing young players. It has been a great stepping stone for others to go on in their career.
Is going on loan an option for you or are you focused on doing well in the Palace academy ranks first?
Palmer: I would prefer to stay here and break through. I think there is a realistic possibility of me playing in the first team and then one day being the main striker for Palace and then we will see what happens from there. Right now, I can only see myself at Crystal Palace personally.
So would you describe yourself as a home-grown lad who likes being around South London, the club and your family?
Palmer: Very much so.
If you could give one piece of advice to one another to improve their game, what would it be?
Palmer: I’d tell Reise to improve his heading. He’s only small and he doesn’t like going up to head the ball.
Allassani: Hmm. Maybe Javen’s first touch needs a bit of work.
What would you consider your main strengths Javen?
Palmer: I’m 5’ 11” so probably my power and speed.
What would you consider your main strengths and where do you like playing Reise?
Allassani: I’m quick and I’m more of a number ten, on the left or as a striker. It depends what team I play in, I don’t really mind but I do like it on the wing.
Many young Palace talents have gone on to join Premier League sides such as Victor Moses and John Bostock and Wilfried Zaha continues to shine. Is it reassuring to know that your chance could be just around the corner?
Allassani: Sometimes it can come too early but it gives you something to work to knowing first team chances come around very quick down here compared to at other clubs. I love Palace and I want to work hard to get my chance.
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