Tony Pulis will have no room for sentiment when Crystal Palace visit Cardiff City for a crucial match in the relegation battle on Saturday.
Just five points separate 16th-placed Palace from Cardiff, who occupy the final relegation spot, and defeat for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men at the Cardiff City Stadium would deal a huge blow to their Premier League survival prospects.
For Palace manager Pulis, the fixture will evoke memories of his childhood, with the Welshman having watched Cardiff in his youth.
Pulis is keen for Cardiff to retain their top-flight status, but has no intention of doing the Welsh club a favour.
“I watched Cardiff when I was a young boy,” he said. “It was wonderful to see Cardiff get promoted with Swansea. Last year was a really good year for Welsh football and I want it to thrive. It’s important for the nation.
“It’s a fantastic club in a great city and you hope, along with us, that they stay in the Premier League. But there will be nothing given from us on Saturday.”
Palace have won only twice on their travels in the league this season, but the Londoners head to Cardiff buoyed by a shock 1-0 win over title hopefuls Chelsea last Saturday.
An own goal from Chelsea captain John Terry was enough to settle the encounter as Palace held firm to pick up all three points in front of a jubilant Selhurst Park crowd.
In a further boost, Palace’s top scorer Marouane Chamakh is in contention to return following a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, though fellow striker Dwight Gayle (ankle) will miss out.
For Cardiff, the fixture is unlikely to provide the same level of drama that the 3-3 draw at West Brom produced last week.
After Cardiff had clawed back a 2-0 deficit, West Brom appeared to have stolen all three points through Thievy Bifouma in the fourth minute of stoppage time, only for Mats Daehli to send the away fans into raptures with an immediate equaliser.
That point could yet prove crucial, but with just six games remaining time is running out for Cardiff to beat the drop, prompting winger Craig Noone to describe the Palace game as “must-win”.
“These are the must-win games of your career,” he is quoted as saying by BBC Sport. “You don’t get many of them which you have to win, but I think this is one of them. It’s a massive game and we’re targeting three points.”
Full-back Fabio is the only fresh injury concern for Solskjaer; the on-loan Manchester United defender came off early against West Brom with a knock.
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