Well, the season’s over, the post mortems done, England haven’t been humiliated in the Euros yet, therefore it’s time to start refreshing the Palace squad ahead of what could be a tough season next time out.
With doubts over budgets and promising youngsters attracting a lot of interest, Palace’s starting XI for the first game of next season could be unrecognisable.
Nathaniel Clyne – With the right back’s contract up in the summer, it seems likely that Clyne will be heading to the Premier League. It will require a spectacular u-turn for new contract to be signed now, but it’s not over until it’s over.
Paul Mcshane – The big Irishman’s loan is up, but may return as a squad player next term if Freedman can do a deal.
Chris Martin – Martin received a lukewarm reception from Palace fans, and his loan from Norwich now up, I wouldn’t expect him to return.
Tony Popovic – the big man who has been helping out with the coaching is returning to the Antipodes to coach Sydney United and is already being touted as future national coach of Australia.
David Wright – Injury restricted Wright’s season to 25 games, and could move on if Freedman is looking to free up space in the squad. That said, he seems to be a favourite of the manager, and has attributes on and off the field. His versatility and leadership qualities could mean he’s kept on.
Anthony Gardner – His contract is up at the end of the season, and if last summer is anything to go by, he could be angling for a move to a bigger club if better wages are on offer. A move to the Premier League seems unlikely but the likes of Leicester, Wolves, Birmingham or Cardiff could be tempted.
Darren Ambrose – it seems ridiculous that Palace would sell their top scorer, but Ambrose had an indifferent season with a mixed impact. Likely to be on big wages.
Kagisho Dikgacoi – KG had a disappointing season, and with the emergence of Joniesta and Stuart O’Keefe, Freedman might be tempted to get rid of the chunky African.
Owen Garvan – Surely Garvan’s time at Palace is drawing to a close. A drunken tweet at the POTY night suggested he’d just signed for an Irish side, but this seems unlikely. The boy has got talent, but not enough to regular turn out in the Palace midfield, and may need to step down a level to make an impact.
Sean Scannell – this was supposed to be Scannell’s big season, and he started well enough, but was not played down the middle in his preferred striker’s role enough. He looked disillusioned by the end of the season, and it will be interesting to see how career pans out from here.
Out on loan?
Alex Wynter – It would be nice to see the England youth captain given a run out at centre back in the first team, but the youngster may be sent out on loan to gain much needed experience.
Antonio Pedroza – The Mexican forward was given limited first team chances, and despite some flashes of ability towards the end of the season, may benefit from a run out at a lower level.
Matthew Parsons – The young left back impressed at the end of the season, but will find his route to the first team blocked by POTY Parr, and Dean Moxey.
Some of the players that were on loan at Palace this season may well return, particularly defenders.
If Clyne moves on then expect Freedman to move for Doncaster Rovers right back Mustapha Dumbuya who looked really good in a short loan spell earlier in the season.
In terms of central defenders, a lot will depend on whether Gardner moves on or not. In an ideal world he will stay. If this is the case, expect Freedman to sign at least one defender to provide competition and back up for the anglo-irish axis of Gardner and McCarthy. Leicester’s Tunchev has already been approached, and Paul McShane could be a further option. If Gardner stays , Freedman may look to Alex Wynter to provide cover.
If Freedman can move on a couple of players, he might look to refresh the midfield. KG needs to up his game if he’s to stay, and a more attacking midfielder might be a option too. However Freedman may be reluctant to sign a more experienced creative midfield in case it hinders the development of latest academy prodigy Jonny Williams.
Depending on how the team develops, wide midfielders would be an option too, particularly if Ambrose moves on or Zaha or Scannell are moved into a more central attacking role.
The final piece of the jigsaw will be a goal scorer. Glenn Murray did not quite cut the mustard this season, but with better service, could kick on. Freedman may look to play Zaha or Scannell down the middle too.