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Hiram Boateng: I'm ready to step up to Crystal Palace's first team


HE MADE his Crystal Palace first-team debut against Premier League opponents in the FA Cup in January and did not look out of place in the slightest.

And now, young Hiram Boateng has targeted a regular place ahead of next season.

The 17-year-old was thrown in at the deep end in the third round replay at Stoke City at the start of the year and impressed immensely alongside Mile Jedinak in the middle of the park with his touch and range of passing.

And even though he has not featured since, he says he will be ready to help Palace's promotion hopes if called upon.

"If I was given another chance in the first team, I would just grasp it," Boateng said.

"It's down to the manager and the staff whether they think I'm ready because it's a big ask with the league position we're in and there's a lot of important games.

"If I get the chance, I'll take it, but I'll just carry on training hard to get in a position for the start of next season.

"I've spoken to the manager and he wants me to become more of a leader – he says he thinks I'm a good player."

Recalling the moment Ian Holloway revealed his starting line-up against Stoke, Boateng says it was a complete surprise and thought he would have just been travelling up for the experience.

"At first, I couldn't believe it," he said.

"I thought it would be like any other trip away where I travel but not even make the bench.

"When I was told, I knew I had to get my head screwed on and be focused for the match.

"We had a team meeting on the day of the game and the management put the team up on the board and that's when the manager said he was going to throw me in and give me a chance.

"I knew it was a big opportunity and I felt ready for it.

"I was training with the first team a lot at the time, but it's only been here and there since.

"Even though people have said I've done well at my age this season, I never want to set standards that are low for myself."

So, what can the Palace fans expect from the current U18 and U21 team regular and his aims for next season?

"I play mostly in central midfield – I can play either holding or a little more advanced, but not like a number ten or anything," said Boateng.

"My strengths are my passing and I'd say I'm strong on the ball and in the air – I always give 100 per cent.

"I never come off the pitch knowing I could have done more to help the team.

"I hope that I can break into the first team in the summer – it's an opportunity for me so it might give a chance for everyone to impress and have a fresh start.

"I want to go and establish myself in the first team at Palace. I want to play as many games as the club are willing to give me, I'll take them as each step and just try to improve – whatever the manager asks of me, I'll just do it."

Hiram Boateng: I'm ready to step up to Crystal Palace's first team

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