Palace's Zaha told: Don't sign for Liverpool
Published 22:30 11/01/12 By Mike Walters
Crystal Palace skipper Paddy McCarthy has warned boy wonder Wilfried Zaha it would be "criminal" to quit Selhurst Park too early.
The England youth international is being tracked by Liverpool and Newcastle, but McCarthy believes being part of Palace's first trip to Wembley since 1997 would keep him at the club beyond the transfer window.
McCarthy cited the case of John Bostock - whose career has stagnated four years after he left the Eagles for Tottenham at the age of 16 - as a cautionary tale for the 19-year-old winger, who signed a new five-year contract with Palace last month.
After Palace beat Cardiff 1-0 in the first leg of their Carling Cup semi on Tuesday, McCarthy said: "Wilfried is a special talent, probably the most naturally gifted individual I have come across in my career, and this is the perfect club for him at the moment.
"Every week, you see the improvement in these kids because they are being managed the right way. It would be criminal for these lads to move on too soon in their careers.
"Dougie Freedman [Palace's manager] won't stand in their way if they need to move on - but he won't let them leave too early, as we have seen with the likes of John Bostock.
"I'm sure Wilfried will be with us for the second leg against Cardiff, and to stay involved in this fantastic journey we've been on."
McCarthy doesn't mind who Palace will meet in the final if they finish the job in south Wales - he supported Liverpool as a boy and began his career at Manchester City, so would love to face either of them.
A Wembley showpiece, just two years after the south London club plunged into administration, would be a startling reversal of fortune.
"I started my career as a trainee at City but it's a totally different club now, hardly recognisable from the one I left after five years to join Leicester," added McCarthy.
"I was also a Liverpool supporter, so it would be a dream to face either of them if we can get to the final.
"Would leading Palace out at Wembley be the ultimate? Too damn right, it would.
"I'm immensely proud to lead this team out every week as it is, because I can see how hard these lads are working for each other.
"It's not nice to go through something like administration, as we did a couple of years ago. You aren't getting paid from one month to the next.
"But we all stuck together, fought tooth and nail to keep the club in the Championship, and now we are moving forward."