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Crystal Palace are at the Turf tomorrow and that brings Roy Hodgson here as a manager for the first time as Palace boss and the first time since December 2009 when he was then in charge of Fulham. Hodgson replaced Frank de Boer, whose last game in charge was their 1-0 defeat here last season.

Last week he became the oldest man to manage in the Premier League, passing Sir Bobby Robson. Ahead of tomorrow’s game, with Palace above us on goal difference, he said: “A win moves you forward and a defeat sends you backwards. We aren’t fooling ourselves. It is no great margin, five points (the number we both are above the bottom three).

“A win is always possible, but you have to perform well to get it. Every team has its strengths and we make sure the players are under no illusions of what they have to face. The league gets stronger every year in that respect.”

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Sean Dyche saw the Clarets lose for the first time in nine games when we were beaten 2-0 at Newcastle and will now be looking for a response from his players. “I still think there is more to come and to go eight unbeaten and create a new club record is a great achievement,” he said. “One loss in nine has a good ring to it, but it’s parked now following Newcastle on Tuesday and we’ll respond.

“We know the players will respond again, particularly now their confidence is very strong and the group is getting healthier all the time. I believe in the group and we have to make sure it’s just a bump and we get on with it. But we are relentless all the time in our training and I believe in what my staff and players do. We have statistically been strong in the second half of seasons, in terms of how the team operates physically and fitness wise.

“Early in this season we weren’t as physically strong in terms of distance covered. Since Christmas we are first or second in the Premier League and that shows another good sign that after Christmas, we are very strong in our physical output, and we need that to continue because it’s an important factor. We’ve had our fair share of injuries and we are getting people back now, and people are getting fitter, so hopefully we can keep that going.”

Dyche spoke about his conversation with Hodgson ahead of the game down at Selhurst, and he said of him this week: “I have a huge respect for Roy, not just for his footballing standing, but he’s a proper gentleman in my experience, and someone who treats you with respect, no matter what your age or standing in the game. I have a lot of time for that.

“Everyone is questioned these days, but sometimes they forget people like Roy, particularly when he came out of the England situation when it was quite damning and harsh. But behind that is a person with a real wealth of experience over a number of years and you can’t help but respect that.

“I think Roy deserves all the respect he now gets. He’s the oldest manager in the Premier League and his years of service to the game in different countries, cultures and environments should be recognised; as should the fact he is still going and still has the fight to continue. That fire inside is a key thing.”

 

 

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