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Woods hoping Hamilton loan move will help push career forward

Sam Woods feels testing himself in Scotland’s top flight is the next step he needs in his career after learning from experienced internationals at Crystal Palace.

The 21-year-old joined Hamilton on loan this week and could make his debut against Livingston in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Saturday.

The centre-back thought carefully about his next step and some advice from Palace team-mate and former Hamilton favourite James McArthur consolidated his instincts.

“I could have stayed down south and played League One or League Two but I feel if I come up here I will really test myself, playing against Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Motherwell, good clubs,” Woods said.

“Macca said that it would be a good start for me so that made my mind up.”

Woods, who has made three first-team appearances for Palace in cup competitions, added: “I have been training with top, top professionals for two years now. What I need now is to play games and experience first-team football because you can’t really get that in reserve games.

“I can see how people get comfortable being in and around a Premier League club, good facilities, good food, everything is done for you. But what I really wanted was to push myself and to do that I have got to play games. I couldn’t really see that at Palace with the experience and quality they’ve got in defence.

“When you’re at a Premier League club, if you check the stats, it’s very rare that you can break straight through. You can’t just go from 23s to first team, it’s very hard. Hopefully I can start here, find my level and make my career.”

Woods has recently been a regular on the bench for Roy Hodgson’s team and believes the environment has helped his progression so far.

“When you are training against guys like (Christian) Benteke, Wilf (Zaha), Jordan Ayew, you are testing yourself every day in training, and that can only make me a better player over the last year or so, but I feel the next step now is to play games.

“Even the defenders as well. Gary Cahill came in the summer, Martin Kelly, Scott Dann, James Tomkins, great pros with great experience and they are always giving me little hints in training like body shape, stuff that you can’t really get unless you are with these guys. Invaluable experience and hopefully I can take that into the games.”

Woods also got a recommendation from another former Accies player, James McCarthy, who was recently reunited with McArthur in south London.

“They say it’s a great club and Macca (McArthur) said he’s a legend round here,” Woods said. “Everyone has been very welcoming as they said it would be. There is a real family feel to the club and it’s been a great first couple of days.”