Crystal Palace boss Ian Holloway strengthened his options on the flanks earlier this week by snapping up Jason Puncheon from Southampton on a season-long loan deal. The flying winger is the tenth player to arrive at Selhurst Park this summer, following Stephen Dobbie, Dwight Gayle, Jerome Thomas, Jose Campana, Kevin Phillips, Elliot Grandin, Marouane Chamakh, Neil Alexander and Florian Marange, as the Eagles boss adds plenty depth to his first-team squad for the campaign ahead.
Puncheon will join up with Holloway for the second time, having played under the Eagles boss during a stint at Blackpool. Speaking to the club’s official website, he admitted the lure of turning out for his boyhood club was also a major factor in his decision:
“I know Ollie really well. He was a massive factor in this move. He knows the league. He’s done it before and I think he will learn from his time at Blackpool and bring it into the team here. I actually played for Crystal Palace as a kid when I was eight. I left and there were a few times in my career that I was due to come back but didn’t. Now I’m here that’s the main thing. I’ve always as a young kid dreamed of playing at Selhurst Park, so it’s a young boy’s dream coming true.”
The 27-yard-old has led a somewhat nomadic career up until now. Starting off with MK Dons back in 2003/04, Puncheon was released after scoring just once in 42 appearances over three seasons. After a brief stint in non-league football, he was picked up by Barnet in the summer of 2006 and racking up 15 goals and 10 assists in 78 league matches, he made his way to Plymouth in 2008.
Puncheon was afforded just six first-team appearances over 18 months in his new surrounds and was loaned out to former club MK Dons three times over this period, producing 11 goals in 51 games before Southampton came calling in January 2010. Over the remainder of the 2010/11 season, the winger looked as if he’d done enough to secure a regular role, with three goals and eight assists in 19 appearances, but he was once again farmed out after losing his starting berth to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the following year.
Loan stints at Millwall, Blackpool and QPR harvested a combined eight goals from 20 appearances before he returned to the Saints again. Puncheon played just eight times in the Championship back in 2011/12 but became a first-team regular under Nigel Adkins last term after the club’s promotion. A cut-price Fantasy favourite, Puncheon produced five goals and six assists over 32 league game but the mid-season installation of Mauricio Pochettino saw him drift out the picture, with most of his final appearance arriving courtesy of the subs bench.
With Wilfried Zaha now back at parent club United, Holloway has been scouring the market for a pacy replacement on the right flank all summer. Palace started with Stephen Dobbie there at home to Tottenham but the Eagles boss is keen to add more speed to the wide areas as he sets his side up to sit deep and counter quickly. A security of starts looks likely for Puncheon, then, whether it be in a 4-5-1 formation or 4-4-2, if Holloway looks to partner Marouane Chamakh and Dwight Gayle up top together, though Holloway revealed Puncheon’s versatility will be crucial over the season:
“He is a player I need and his experience will be vital. I am delighted to have him and he is the right type of character to help my lads. Jason can play in four different positions and will be a good addition to the squad.”
Despite the opportunity of increased game time in his new surrounds, Puncheon will find it difficult to attract much attention. Initially listed as a Southampton player, his price across the Fantasy games reflects his status as a regular member of Pochettino’s squad, as opposed to a budget option for the Eagles.
Coming in at 5.5 in Fantasy Premier League (FPL), Puncheon’s price is slightly too costly to eye him as part of a cheap rotational pair – somewhat ironic, as we scour the market to find value similar to last term’s Puncheon/Raheem Sterling combination. Indeed, fellow Palace wingers Jonny Williams and Jerome Thomas will set you back just 4.5 by comparison and could come into consideration – Williams’ game time now seems in question if Holloway opts for the top-flight experience of Thomas (when fit) on the left. With plenty of less expensive options outwith Selhurst Park, though, Puncheon is likely to be overlooked this term unless he somehow serves up a series of performances that simply prove impossible to ignore.