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Sunderland v Crystal Palace: Pardew not expecting warm welcome

SoccerNews in English Premier League 9 Apr 2015

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Alan Pardew is expecting a hostile reception from Sunderland fans on Saturday, but the former Newcastle United manager believes his in-form Crystal Palace side can silence the buoyant Stadium of Light faithful.

Pardew spent four years in charge of Sunderland’s arch-rivals before leaving St James’ Park to return to his former club Palace in January.

The 53-year-old Londoner has lifted Palace from the Premier League relegation zone to the comfort of mid-table and is eyeing a top-half finish seven games remaining.

Relegation-threatened Sunderland won the Tyne-Wear derby last Sunday courtesy of a stunning volley from Jermain Defoe to give Dick Advocaat a first victory since replacing Gus Poyet last month.

Pardew has been accustomed to a rough ride at the Stadium of Light, but the Palace boss is more concerned about his side maintaining their fine run of form after they beat Manchester City on Monday to extend their winning run to three matches.

“I expect an atmosphere that they normally create for any game there,” he said.

“We are going there in great form and I think the stadium will be wary of us because, irrespective of my reception, it is about the 11 players on the pitch.

“I think the Sunderland fans know that we are in really good form.

“The group is on a high. We have a different type of game this Saturday and we need to make the adjustment quickly.”

Defoe’s strike ended Sunderland’s seven-game winless run in the top flight and they are now three points clear of the relegation zone.

Striker Connor Wickham savoured the atmosphere at a packed Stadium of Light last weekend and wants more of the same with so much at stake in the closing weeks of the season.

He told the club’s official website: “You could see what it meant to the fans. All the way through the game and at the end they were great and I think we need that every week.

“The win provided a massive boost for us, for the club and for the supporters.

“When they’re like that it’s almost like having an extra man and it is really intimidating for the opposition, so hopefully they can provide the same backing on Saturday.”

Advocaat will be without Sebastian Larsson, who starts a two-game suspension after picking up his 10th yellow card of the season against Newcastle, but Jack Rodwell (hamstring) could return.

Wes Brown (knee), Emanuele Giaccherini (ankle) and Ricky Alvarez (knee) all remain sidelined due to injury.

Palace have an injury concern over Joe Ledley (hip), but captain Mile Jedinak is available after serving a four-match ban.

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