Alan Pardew calls for more from Crystal Palace strikers
Published 04/02/2016 | 15:16
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has urged his strikers to step up to the mark as he prepares his side for Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Swansea.
The Eagles have lost five league games in a row, albeit without the likes of Yannick Bolasie and Dwight Gayle through injury, and Pardew reckons it is up to a frontman to turn around the team's fortunes.
He said: "We need to get a striker scoring. We have Gayle, who has not been involved in this period, Connor Wickham hasn't been involved in this period - that was self-imposed (he was given a three-match ban for elbowing Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen), which he has been fined for.
"I want to increase the competition, I want to get one of them firing.
"Connor comes back next week but that doesn't help me this week.
"I don't think it's any mistake that the captain (Mile Jedinak) has returned to the side right now because that is the type of player we need - someone who is going to lead us to an important victory."
Pardew reported on Thursday that Gayle had trained and was back available for the Liberty Stadium encounter.
But Palace were dealt another injury blow this week as James McArthur was ruled out with ankle ligament damage, sustained in Tuesday's 2-1 home defeat by Bournemouth, which could sideline him for the rest of the season.
Jason Puncheon also finished the midweek match with a hamstring injury which will see him sidelined for a "long period", according to Pardew.
The 54-year-old continued: "We have lost two very important players in McArthur and Puncheon - they have both been having a wonderful season for us, so it is a significant blow.
"We have got a squad where one or two really do need to produce for us - Jordon Mutch is going to be in the frame, Chungy (Lee Chung-yong) is going to be in the frame too, as I put more pressure on them to deliver."
Wilfried Zaha put in an impressive performance against Stoke last weekend as Palace defeated the Potters 1-0 to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup, and Pardew is keen for the 23-year-old's confidence to grow.
"I think drilling into him how important every game is has helped the consistency to his game and he keeps getting to higher levels of performance and I am constantly on to him," he said of the forward, who rejoined Palace on a permanent deal this time last year following an ill-fated stint at Manchester United.
"I challenged him to back up that Stoke performance and he did (against Bournemouth) and he now must do another one.
"We need him at this time - we need him to step up. I had long chats with him about this was the time we were really going to need him now.
"He doesn't always get the rub of the green and it frustrates him at times.
"When I found him here last year I think he was carrying a lot of frustration, a lot of unnecessary baggage for a young player so we tried to remove that baggage from him and free him up to enjoy his football and understand his role.
"He is only 23, he is a young man who has had so much happen to him - you have to take your hat off to him."