Youth is not a word that you would associate with Crystal Palace right now.
In the club’s last outing at Selhurst Park – a 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United – Roy Hodgson named the Eagles’ oldest ever Premier League starting XI, with an average age of 30 years and 94 days.
Among that crop were 33-year-old Vicente Guaita and 34-year-old Gary Cahill – in truth, the former England manager couldn’t really name a younger lineup if he wanted to.
Only two players currently at the club – 23-year-old Jairo Riedewald and 24-year-old Max Meyer, not including Brandon Pierrick – are under the age of 27 in what is a damning indictment on just how poorly the life-span of the squad has been managed.
It is, in an attempt to solve this issue it seems, that Scott Banks was poached from Dundee United in the January window.
The 18-year-old – who Clyde manager Danny Lennon described as “so pleasing to the eye” and “having real elegance and guile” – spent time on loan with Clyde last season, winning their Goal of the Season award while also helping them achieve promotion to the Scottish League One.
“Those things are important but the biggest thing that caught my eye was his guile and his balance in the way he moved about the field, as well as his agility. He was so pleasing to the eye. He had real elegance and guile.”
Southampton – a club famed for producing the likes of Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott – were also interested in signing the Scotland U19 international, further emphasising how much of a talent he really is.
In isolation, capturing Banks will not go far in reducing the average age of the Crystal Palace squad, something that those ‘at all levels’ of the club are clear needs to happen.
However, given all of the superlatives that have been sprinkled over the teenager – Lennon even said that Banks is “the boy next door that every mother wants as a son-in-law” – it does seem as if Steve Parish and Dougie Freedman have made a great start in beginning this youthful overhaul.
It will take two, three or maybe even four more ‘Scott Banks-esque’ talents to walk through the Selhurst Park door to really signal a shift in the direction Crystal Palace plan to take.
However, bringing the youngster who is clearly highly thought-of to south London seems to be as good a start as any.
In other news, these Crystal Palace fans have reacted to a Roy Hodgson update which one supporter thinks will mean “a lot of people won’t renew season tickets”…