Burley raises hopes at Palace, the league's other chaos club

Manager finds silver lining despite tough times at Selhurst Park forcing him to put his faith in youth

Alan Hansen famously suggested that "you'll win nothing with kids" but, sometimes, managers have little choice.

"We only have about 10 players over 21," Crystal Palace's George Burley said as he looked ahead to the new Championship season, starting with today's opening fixture at home to Leicester City. "One thing is for sure. The young players here will get opportunities."

It is just as well that Burley has built a reputation for developing young talent through 19 years in management with Ayr United, Colchester United, Ipswich Town, Derby County, Hearts, Southampton and Scotland. Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, Darren Bent, Kieron Dyer and Tom Huddlestone are among the players the 54-year-old Scot has turned from promising boys into men of international potential.

Burley took over at Selhurst Park in June during a traumatic summer, in which a consortium of Palace-supporting businessmen agreed a last-minute deal to rescue the club, which had gone into administration with debts of about £30m. Palace had avoided relegation, following a 10-point deduction, by drawing at Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of last season.

A host of experienced professionals, including Shaun Derry, Danny Butterfield, Clint Hill, Nick Carle and Matt Lawrence, left the club during the close season. Darren Ambrose, last season's leading scorer, and Paddy McCarthy, the new captain, have both signed extended contracts, but the futures of some other players, including Julian Speroni, one of the best goalkeepers outside the Premier League, remain in doubt.

Burley has begun rebuilding, but money is clearly tight. Owen Garvan, a midfielder recruited this week from Ipswich for about £200,000 to become the new manager's fourth signing, is the first player for whom Palace have paid a fee for two years.

Palace have been working hard to tie up the loose ends to come out of administration, but were told at a meeting only last week that Football League rules mean clubs are restricted in the number of players they can register until those arrangements have been completed. Burley, whose one fit left-back is Julian Bennett, signed on loan from Nottingham Forest two days ago, said that "most" of his squad would be available today but admitted team selection would be "a juggling act".

Nevertheless, it is not only through necessity that youngsters such as 17-year-old Wilfred Zaha and 19-year-old Kieron Cadogan will be given their chances today. "I've always said that if you're good enough, you're old enough," Burley said. "Crystal Palace have a reputation for bringing kids through and I feel that working with young players is one of my strengths. The youth policy and the young players coming through here had a big appeal to me."

From the days of Clinton Morrison and Hayden Mullins, who helped keep the club going through a previous period in administration more than 10 years ago, Palace's highly-regarded academy has regularly paid its way. Wayne Routledge, Ben Watson, Tom Soares and Victor Moses are among those who went on to shine in the first team before being sold on for sizeable transfer fees.

"You don't get a bigger thrill than actually seeing a youngster come through," Burley said. "I look back at players like Darren Bent, who was with me [at Ipswich] from the age of 14 through to 17 in the first team, and Gareth Bale [at Southampton]. When you've seen them make their debut and keep improving, you keep an eye on their progress as they go on to international level, even when you've left the club. Bobby Robson gave me my debut at 17. I eventually moved into management, but he always kept in touch with me."

Asked what his realistic expectations were for this season, Burley cited the example of Blackpool, who surprised almost everyone by winning promotion to the Premier League last season. "Who's to say what is realistic?" he said. "What was Blackpool's realistic aim? Anything's possible.

"I've been in the Championship, I've been in four play-offs, I've had promotion, I know what it takes. It's a tough, competitive league. We're not setting any targets. We'll try to do our best and who knows where it might take us. We're not going to say we'd be happy to finish halfway. We'll try our best but, at the moment, it's difficult to gauge because we still have a lot to do."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell