Crystal Palace academy starlet Kieron Cadogan has expressed his delight after signing his first professional contract with the club.

The teenager, who celebrated his 18th birthday just days before signing the deal, admits he was surprised to be offered the contract at that start of his second year with the academy.

Fellow academy players Kieron Djilali and James Comley have also been handed their first professional contracts.

Manager Neil Warnock told Cadogan he would be offering him a deal after the club’s friendly victory at Aldershot in July, in which Cadogan fractured his ankle late on having been a second-half substitute.

Cadogan said: “I’m very happy.

“I got told I was going to play in some pre-season games but I thought I was just filling space. It was sprung on me to be honest.

“Neil said he was impressed with me and wanted to offer me a contract. He introduced himself to us when he came and made us feel comfortable and talks to us all the time.”

Sean Scannell, Lee Hills and Victor Moses have all graduated from the academy to become regular first team members under Warnock and Cadogan admitting their rise up the ranks gives him and other youngsters a huge encouragement.

“That gives us a massive incentive,” he said.

“It means anything can happen and it’s not impossible to get in the first team and if I push myself hard enough this year maybe that’s where I can be.”

Cadogan joined Palace a year ago having been semi-professional at Fisher Athletic.

He started off with Wandle Wanderers in Wandsworth at the age of seven and had spells at Arsenal and Fulham when he was young.

He was also full of praise for Under 18 coach and academy assistant manager Gary Issott.

He said: “Issott has helped me in leaps and bounds in training, offering me support and building up my confidence. “Training is good as we mirror the first team. Everything they do we do.”