Crystal Palace attacker Jesurun Rak-Sakyi has talked up the trust Patrick Vieira has in the club’s youth and revealed his determination to impress the Eagles boss before the season ends later this month.
The teenager helped the Under-23s’ end their Premier League 2 campaign on a high on Monday with a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Derby at Selhurst Park to secure a fifth-place finish.
A day later Rak-Sakyi, who has scored 16 goals in all competitions this term, was recognised at the club’s end-of-season awards night with Player of the Year for Paddy McCarthy’s side.
It has been a campaign to remember for the 19-year-old, who made his Palace first-team debut with a late substitute appearance at Chelsea on the opening day and has since earned numerous call-ups to England’s Under-20 squad.
“He’s a great manager,” Rak-Sakyi said of Vieira.
“I would say that he really trusts the youth. It just shows that if we work hard and we just put in the work in training and games then there are opportunities here.
“I have just got to work hard, keep training hard and hopefully I will get more minutes.”
Vieira revealed after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Watford some of McCarthy’s Under-23s would train with the first team from Wednesday until the end of the season on May 22.
Rak-Sakyi has consistently been in and around the senior set-up and made the matchday squad on seven occasions.
There is every chance the wide forward, who played the final 13 minutes at Stamford Bridge in August, could earn more game-time under Vieira over the next 10 days in the clashes with Aston Villa, Everton and Manchester United.
On his debut at Chelsea, Rak-Sakyi added: “It was crazy. I didn’t really expect to be coming on, but when I did I was ready. I was just happy for every minute that I was on the pitch for.
“The fans are amazing. Even when I stepped on the pitch for the first time, they have been backing me all the way through and the fans play a really big part, so I am very thankful for them.
“It’s been a great season. The club have been supporting me since I joined (in 2019) and I have just felt at home.”
Rak-Sakyi reserved praise for two players in Vieira’s squad for making him feel extra comfortable in the first team.
“All of them have been really great,” he said. “But I would say that Jairo (Riedewald) and Ebs (Eze) have been really looking after me a lot.
“Jairo is a great player. I don’t think a lot of people realise the hard work that he puts in during training. For him to look after all the young boys who come up just shows what a cool guy he is.”