'Season cannot come quickly enough for me'
PADDY McCarthy is itching to get back to playing football after what he describes as one of the longest off-seasons he can remember.
The Palace captain will return to pre-season training alongside his team-mates next week and the Irishman says he is really looking forward to it.
He said: "It is always good to get back in and see the lads.
"I am definitely looking forward to it and probably more than most this time as it has been quite long with the Euros going on."
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That's not to say that the stalwart defender did not enjoy the break.
"I played 50-odd games last year, so the break was probably needed to get the legs ready," he said.
"But now I am ready and itching to get back."
The skipper is also looking forward to meeting the Eagles' summer acquisitions, with Joel Ward and Aaron Martin likely to be forming part of a new-look defence for Palace next season.
McCarthy is positive about the new signings and believes the acquisition of Ward in particular is a "sign of intent" by the club.
"There was a lot of interest in Joel and the fact that he decided to come to Palace bodes well," he said.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old said he was disappointed to see his defensive partner Anthony Gardner leave the club to join Sheffield Wednesday, particularly given their impressive defensive record last season.
He said: "Anthony was a fantastic player for us. I enjoyed playing with him and when you lose someone like that it is disappointing."
McCarthy is now relishing the chance to forge a new partnership with loan signing Aaron Martin.
He said: "I spoke with Dougie and he speaks very highly of him, both as a player and as a person.
"I am looking forward to meeting him and I am sure he will do a great job for us.
"He played his part in a promotion-winning team and hopefully he can bring that to us."
As for McCarthy's hopes for the season, the skipper is confident the Eagles can improve on last season's 17th place finish in the npower Championship.
He said: "We want to finish higher up the table and if we can do that and perhaps have another cup run, we will be happy."
McCarthy does, however, expect the division to be as tough as ever, particularly with the likes of former club Charlton Athletic entering the league this year.
He said: "It is always a competitive division and next year will be no different.
"There are a lot of big teams and teams spending a lot of money, but Crystal Palace is a big club too in its own right and we will go into every game believing we can get a result."
Another aim for McCarthy is to maintain Palace's good form against London rivals, having gone unbeaten in derby matches last season.
He said: "They are up there with the best games in terms of atmosphere.
"We got some good results against our rivals last year and hopefully this season we can do the same."