SA born Crystal Palace defender Nikola Tavares is getting closer to making his debut for the English Premier League club.
The 20-year-old was promoted to the first team of the club having had a good couple of seasons with their u23 side where he was handed the captain’s armband last season.
Speaking about his progress, he told FARPost.co.za, “I had a few targets for the new season and initially I wanted to go to pre-season with the first team which I did. We went to Switzerland so I’m happy to do that and then from then until Christmas I just want to try and be involved with the first team as much as possible.
“I’m happy that I made the bench in the Carabao Cup against Colchester (in late August) that was really good hopefully I get one or two more opportunities until Christmas,” Tavares continued.
“If I see that I’m not getting many opportunities with the first team which is hard at a Premier League then I might look for a loan in January and if not I will carry on until the end of the season and try to break through but next season for sure I need to get regular first team football.”
Tavares was born and raised in Cape Town to a Croatian mother and a Portuguese father.
He played his early football at the Old Mutual Academy and Hellenic then he eventually moved to England at the age of 14 where he had trials with Reading and Brentford U18s, who wanted to sign him immediately but he opted for Crystal Palace instead.
Tavares is surrounded by experienced playerS at Palace so we asked what are the benefits of being in such company and what does he learn and the defender took a deep breath and replied, “Yeah I mean it was great I was with them almost everyday of pre-season which was invaluable for me.
“I was with Gary Cahill who plays in my position and has been playing in the Premier League for so long and he gave me tips about stuff to do which is great because you watch these players and learn about their decision making,” Tavares said.
“They might not play in my position but people like Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend – these guys have played at the highest level so it’s always good to be in and around that environment and yeah now its after pre-season so more to date stuff I’m not always with them everyday but I’m with them every now and then when they need players from the younger guys to step in.”
Tavares added: “Football is about getting an opportunity and grabbing it hopefully I get a few more chances because football is all about waiting for an opportunity and taking it when it come so yeah that’s what I’m planning to do.”