So this is it. After 45 games, the whole season boils down to one match at Highfield Road. Get at least a point and we’ll be looking forward to the play-offs. Get beat and we’ll be left sweating on what the likes of Ipswich, Wigan, Sheffield United and Reading can do in their game.
All the pundits seem to think we’re already there – and a lot of them are tipping us to go all the way. But as Palace fans we all know it’s never that easy…
The good news is that the Eagles injury-free run continues. Iain Dowie has a full squad to choose from – even long-term absentees Darren Powell and Ben Watson have come through several reserve games lately.
However the only change likely to happen will be the return of the hugely influential Michael Hughes. The pacy midfielder has served his two-match ban and will replace Shaun Derry in the middle to give Palace a further attacking edge. Dougie Freedman will be on the bench, should any last-minutes-of-the-season goals be required.
Coventry, meanwhile, have suddenly become an entirely different proposition. Under Eric Black, the Midlanders had been making steady progress, but would probably have had little enthusiasm for an end-of-season clash in which they have nothing to play for. With the sudden sacking of Black and the equally swift appointment of Peter Reid, all that has changed. Coventry are now a team of players looking to impress their new boss. Palace fans will be hoping he’s left distinctly nonplussed come Sunday afternoon. Julian Joachim returns from injury for the Sky Blues, but they’ll be missing Steve Staunton and have Craig Pead suspended.
If you’ve not been lucky enough to get a ticket, don’t forget that Sky have deigned to show our game live (for only the third time this season). Get yourself in front of a telly somewhere in time for kick off at 1pm on Sunday. Alternatively, head to Selhurst Park for the beamback. Entry to that is free, but you have to get your ticket in advance. Over 5,000 have already been reserved!
Come on the Palace!!
Probable Palace XI:
Butterfield Leigertwood Popovic Granville
Routledge Riihilahti Hughes Gray