Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Freedman Rallies Palace Youngsters; Nationwide League

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Freedman Rallies Palace Youngsters; Nationwide League

Article excerpt

CRYSTAL PALACE striker Dougie Freedman believes the First Division side's talented youngsters must take on more responsibility if the club are to avoid becoming embroiled in the fight against relegation.

Palace were beaten 2-1 by Birmingham City at Selhurst Park last night.

It was their fourth successive defeat and it left them only five points above the bottom three places.

Palace have proved they can compete with the Premiership's top teams with victories over Leicester, Liverpool and Sunderland in the Worthington Cup this season.

But 26-year-old Freedman, who was recalled to the starting line-up in place of top scorer Clinton Morrison, reckons the less experienced players in the team now face an even greater test of their character.

"Maybe mentally we are not tuned in enough as we have a young team but the players are definitely good enough," said the former Nottingham Forest forward.

"We have another 11 games and we will be okay but the younger players need to take responsibility.

"When you lose a few games you can start doubting whether you are good enough to be playing and you can start to become affected by things going on around you.

"But it's just something you experience when you are younger and we will overcome that when we get a few victories."

Some of Palace's young stars like Morrison have played more than 40 games with two months of the season still remaining and Mikael Forssell, who has been on international duty with Finland, has had three matches in eight days.

Freedman can count himself unlucky to have lost his place in the side. He scored four goals in four games before being ruled out for a fortnight with a thigh injury in November.

He believes some of his team-mates now need a break.

He said: "Clinton has been fantastic this season but he is only 21 and he's going through a stage where maybe he is a bit tired. …

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