Palace's Gabbidon has a date with destiny at Wembley

This Is Local London: Hugs all round: Danny Gabbidon embraces Joel Ward and will want to be celebrating once more on Monday Hugs all round: Danny Gabbidon embraces Joel Ward and will want to be celebrating once more on Monday

Danny Gabbidon goes into the Championship play-off final on Monday admitting this has been one of the strangest, yet most enjoyable, seasons of his career.

The veteran Crystal Palace centre back has been injured or on the subs bench for much of the campaign but has provided a modicum of calm since coming into the side six games ago.

He looks certain to start at Wembley in the season-ending showpiece against Watford - a complete reversal from the start of the season where he was without a club until former Eagles manager Dougie Freedman took a punt on him in September.

"It has been strange as it's been one of my best seasons at a club even though I haven't played as many games as I would like," he said.

"Just being involved with this bunch of players and helping the young lads develop has been great.

"We all get on so well and that really goes a long way, especially for a player to be involved in a team with such a great spirit. I enjoy coming in for work every day.

"It's been a bit strange as I joined late and I had to get fit and then the team was doing really well so I had to wait. Then when I got a chance I got an injury and had to start again.

"It's been a bit up and down and I feel like I have been chasing the whole season but now I have played a few games I feel like I have finally caught up.

"The lads who were playing in front of me have been fantastic, they have had superb seasons so I cannot grumble about not playing.

"I am just happy to be part of this team and to be involved in this part of the season."

At 33, Gabbidon is one of Palace's experienced heads and won a play-off final with Cardiff City at the Millennium Stadium in 2003.

He has become used to being a sounding board for advice for Palace youngsters but is not convinced the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Jonny Williams will need it come Monday.

"I have been here for the whole season for the young lads if they want advice, they know they can come to me," he added.

"That is what I have enjoyed most this season, watching the young lads developing and they are raring to go.

"It is probably one of the biggest games for they have had in their careers so far but they are all level-headed lads and I am sure they will be fine.

"Jonny Williams has played so many big games for such a young age, he will probably have to calm me down."

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