BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Despite playing just one minute of Premier League football in the past two seasons for Crystal Palace, defender Martin Kelly has been singled out for praise by boss Patrick Vieira.
With the international pair of Marc Guehi and Joachim Andersen the first choice central defenders in SE25, it has been slim pickings this season for Kelly, but his French boss was quick to point out the positive attitude from the former Liverpool player as he looks to get back in the starting 11.
“Of course there is a frustration – like every single player he wants to play and be on the field, but he’s a really good professional,” said Vieira to the South London Press
“When you see the way he’s training every day [and] you see the way he is coming early and to look after himself; he’s working well, he’s working hard and he’s just waiting for his chance. This is what I want.”
Kelly has played just once this season, the full 90 minutes in the FA Cup fourth round tie against Hartlepool, while in the 2021 calendar year he appeared just for a minute, brought on by former boss Roy Hodgson in the season-ender at Anfield.
However, the character and example shown by the 31-year-old has been crucial in the development of the young players coming through in SE25 according to Vieira.
“Youth needs to be surrounded by experience and what is important is to have experienced players around,” explained Vieira.
“It’s massively important because those young players need to have positive role models to understand how you prepare yourself for the game and how you prepare yourself in the week to allow yourself to perform at your best.
“At this football club we have some really good examples: Luka [Milivojevic], Macca [James McArthur] and Martin. This is why I always mention his name as a really good example. He’s putting his frustration on the side and doing what he needs to do as a professional. This is what I want from all the players.”
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD