Iain Dowie came as close as he ever does to publicly criticising his team after last week’s showing at Fratton Park.
As a result, the boss has hinted at several changes to the line-up that could take place for this ‘must-win’ match against City.
For a start, Julian Speroni must surely fear for his place after a series of erratic displays. The Argentinian keeper seems beset by nerves at the moment, skipping from goalkeeping genius to cack-handed buffoon in a heartbeat. There’s no doubting Speroni’s raw talent, but with Gabor Kiraly wating in the wings a goalkeeping swap could be on the cards sooner rather than later.
Changes in defence would also seem likely. Whether Dowie is prepared to drop his skipper is questionable, but after two own-goals in as many games Tony Popovic’s place in the first eleven is no longer a given. Fitz Hall has struggled to play out of position in midfield, and could drop back into his normal position replacing either Pops or Mark Hudson.
His place in midfield would likely be taken by Michael Hughes, who must be wondering what he’s done wrong to be so consistently ignored for a starting spot.
The only area of the pitch where changes are unlikely to occur is up front. On the two occasions they’ve played together Torghelle and AJ have shown signs of a lively partnership. Against City’s jittery defence, this could prove just what the doctor ordered.
The only injuries that affect team selection are the long-term knock carried by Danny Butterfield, and a slight ligament strain for Mikele Leigertwood.
If the speculation is to be believed, City are playing to keep boss Kevin Keegan in a job. The former England manager has few injury concerns for tomorrow. Steve McManaman is a long-term casualty, and Trevor Sinclair may also miss out.
Probable Palace XI:
Boyce Hall Hudson Granville
Routledge Riihilahti Hughes Kolkka