Aaron Wan-Bissaka: My year in the Crystal Palace first team
Crystal Palace host Brighton live on Sky Sports Premier League from 11.30am on Saturday
Last Updated: 09/03/19 12:58pm
It has been just over a year since Aaron Wan-Bissaka made his first-team debut for Crystal Palace, and the 21-year-old feels like he "belongs" in the squad.
The right-back has been at Crystal Palace since the age of 11 and finally got his chance during an injury crisis last year, making his debut against Tottenham on February 25, and has rarely been out of the team since.
Indeed, this season, he has started in 26 of the 29 Premier League games played, and Wan-Bissaka is taking the experience in his stride.
He told Soccer Saturday: "It feels like I belong in this team and it feels like I've been here for years. My target is to play as much as I can and perform well. Once I was in, the aim was to stay in and progress from there.
"I found out the day before [about playing against Tottenham]. I was quite shocked, but it was my chance and I had to take it. I wasn't nervous until it was time to kick-off, I got told to get ready and the nerves kicked in, but once the whistle went, my game kicked in and it was fine.
"It is a bit weird [being in the first team after spending 10 years with the youth teams] but it was always a dream and now that dream has come true. I just want it to carry on and it means a lot to play for my local team.
"My aim is just to keep playing with Palace. I think it's going well so far and I want to just complete this season because it will be my first."
Wan-Bissaka was a winger in his teenage years, but transformed into a defender - epitomising the wing-back role - and credited former manager Frank de Boer for the change.
"It started when Frank de Boer took over," he added. "The formation he played was with wing-backs, so the right winger would play wing-back, so you had to do both attacking and defending. That's where my coaches saw my strengths in the position.
"I wasn't really surprised, I just got used to it and then Roy came and changed it to a back four. My previous manager, Richard Shaw [Wan-Bissaka's U23 coach], helped me progress into that right-back player.
"I started in the U21's tackling a lot, it got noticed that I was quite good at it, but I didn't realise it until I played in the right-back position.
"It's more of an understanding with the tackles. I was a winger and you get a sense of where they're going to go. Even if they don't go that way, it's advantage for me with the length of my legs and I'm still confident I'm going to get the ball. If I can get there I'll do my best to get there."
"I feel good, but when the chance comes to go forward I take them."
Next up is one of Crystal Palace's biggest games of the season - hosting fierce rivals Brighton at Selhurst Park - which will be shown live on Sky Sports Premier League from 11.30am.
Wan-Bissaka said: "It is an important to the fans, a big game and we won't let the occasion get to us. We'll just try to come away with the three points.
"Every loss hurts [Crystal Palace lost 3-1 at the Amex earlier this season], but we all learn from our mistakes and it's something we have to turn into a positive.
"There is confidence with the team at the moment. Now we are taking our chances and it's showing in the table. We're always up for a game, to put 100 per cent and I think that will show with results."