The best Crystal Palace XI made up of just academy graduates
Ian Wright is one of the players that stands out as the best to play for Crystal Palace.
The Eagles bought the Premier League hall of famer from Greenwich Borough in 1985, and he went on to score 80 goals in red and blue.
For Palace, developing their own talent is arguably more important than buying it from other clubs.
So, who are the best players to come through the Palace academy?
We’ve taken a look at the best possible starting 11 that Crystal Palace could field from players that they’ve developed from their academy.
Unlike in other positions, Palace haven’t been prolific in developing high profile goalkeepers.
But anyone who has watched much of the Championship this season will be aware of Freddie Woodman.
Woodman was in the Palace academy from 2002-2013. Unfortunately for Woodman he made no senior appearances for The Eagles, but he went on to join Newcastle where he received more recognition after two successful loan spells at Swansea City.
Woodman finally made his first senior start for Newcastle at the start of the 2021/22 season. He made four consecutive appearances for Newcastle before being dropped back to the bench after a game vs Manchester United.
He joined Preston last summer and has racked up 33 appearances this season. Aged 26 and with his best years ahead of him, there is still plenty of time for Woodman to make a name for himself in the Premier League.
Clyne was promoted to the Palace first team in 2008 and was the youngest player to play every single match in the Championship in 2010/11. He spent four years at Palace before leaving to join Southampton, who had just been promoted to the Premier League.
Clyne went on to play for Liverpool, but injury problems tainted his time with The Reds. Clyne then spent one year on loan at Bournemouth before leaving to re-join Crystal Palace in 2020.
The current England manager was released from Southampton aged 13 and joined Crystal Palace from there.
He made his debut for the Palace first team in 1988, and stayed there until 1995, playing 152 games and scoring 15 goals.
Originally, Southgate began as a right back at Palace, before moving into central midfield.
Southgate played a key role as Palace won the 1993/94 First Division title, and it was only once they were relegated and Southgate joined Aston Villa that he became a centre back.
Shaw made 207 appearances for Palace across his career, and also played for Coventry, making 317 appearances.
Shaw helped Palace to reach the FA Cup final in 1990, but one of his more famous moments came when he played against Manchester United.
Shaw was the defender that got Cantona sent off when United came to Selhurst Park, which inadvertently led to Cantona karate kicking a fan.
The youngest player in this team, Tyrick Mitchell has demonstrated great ability in his young career.
The 23-year-old has already made 87 appearances for Palace in the Premier League and has probably stapled his name onto the left back position for years to come.
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Undoubtedly the most expensive player on this list, Wan-Bissaka joined Manchester United for £50 million in the summer of 2019.
He started out as a winger in the Palace academy, before being moved to right back, where he excelled.
The former Palace player of the year has been linked with a move back to Selhurst Park many times during his United career, so only time will tell whether he’ll follow the same path as Wilfred Zaha.
Across his career Ben Waston has made 550 appearances, scoring 48 goals at a variety of clubs, such as West Brom, QPR and Watford.
Watson made 127 appearances for Palace in the Championship, but his undoubted career highlight came when he scored the winning goal to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup final for Wigan Athletic.
Mullins made over 250 appearances for Palace from 1998 to 2003. He was part of the Palace side that reached the semi-final of the league cup in the 2000/01 season.
In 2003 Mullins left the club as he believed he couldn’t reach his full potential at Crystal Palace. He went on to play for another five clubs, before retiring at Notts County in 2015.
Victor Moses is without a doubt the most decorated player on this list. Since he left Crystal Palace in 2010, he’s won two Europa League titles, one Premier League trophy, one FA Cup, the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria and is a Russian cup winner with his current club, Spartak Moscow.
Morrison started out at Spurs, but joined the Palace youth team in 1996. He was promoted to the Palace first team in 1998, where he played for four years.
Morrison played for eight different professional clubs, including Crystal Palace, where he scored over 100 of his goals.
The final player in this team is a player that will surely go down as one of The Eagles’ greatest of all time.
Zaha has 67 Premier league goals for Palace, and despite leaving to join Manchester United in 2013, came back permanently in 2015, where he’s stayed until the present day.
Zaha has consistently been one of the most dangerous wingers in the Premier League for a number of years, after helping Palace secure promotion in the 2016/17 season.
Defence: Clyne, Shaw, Southgate, Mitchell
Midfield: Wan-Bissaka, Mullins, Watson
Attack: Moses, Morrison, Zaha
You might be wondering with the strange selection players, how they would actually fit into a starting 11, but don’t worry, let me explain.
The team would start in a four-three-three formation. Mitchell in his youth should hopefully be full of energy to cover the left flank, while Clyne can receive help from those in front of him should he need it.
Both centre backs are relatively small, Shaw standing at five foot nine and Southgate at six foot, so we’re just going to have to hope we don’t play against any combined 11s with Peter Crouch in them.
The midfield three is slightly unconventional, with Mullins playing in the holding midfield role and Ben Watson just in front of him, slightly to the left hand side.
Now, the other central midfielder is going to have to be Wan-Bissaka. Too good to leave out of the team, Wan-Bissaka had to have a place in here somewhere.
Hopefully his history as a winger and his professional career as a defender can help him find some sort of balance in a box-to-box role, but I’m not so sure it’s going to work out.
That leaves the forward line as Moses, Morrison and Zaha. All of the creativity is going to have to come through the left hand-side of this team, because the entire right-hand side is made up of players that have played right back.
Creating chances for Morrison is going to be key, so hopefully this tactic works, because there aren’t too many other creative players in the squad to rely upon.