Monk demands reaction from Swans
Published 01/03/2014 | 14:07
Swansea boss Garry Monk has called on his players to channel the hurt of their Europa League elimination into their performance against Crystal Palace on Sunday.
The Swans bowed out of Europe at the last-32 stage on Thursday after a fighting 3-1 reverse at Napoli, a game which remained in the balance until added time when Gokhan Inler's strike finally killed the tie off.
The end of their European ambitions has come as a bitter disappointment to Swansea's players, but one positive to take is that they are now free to focus solely on their battle for Barclays Premier League survival.
Swansea sit 12th in the standings after last weekend's battling 4-3 loss at Liverpool, but just four points separate the club from the relegation zone, with Palace two points worse off in 16th.
A win for either side would represent a massive step towards safety, and Monk hopes some good can come from the pain of Naples.
"The idea is to take the disappointment from going out of the competition into Sunday's game," said Monk, whose team will earn a welcome break after Sunday's game with their next scheduled opponents, Arsenal, on FA Cup duty the following weekend.
"Hopefully we will get the reaction that we want after our disappointment.
"I will request my players give one last mammoth effort before we get a two-week break."
Although a welcome rest period is on the horizon, Monk has not ruled out making several changes for the clash with the Eagles as he looks to keep his squad fresh.
"I based my selection for the game against Napoli a little bit on the Palace match because you have to," he said.
"As I've said before, it's impossible for me to play the same 11 players every single game in this period. We've had a lot of games, with the Palace game it will be seven games in 21 days, which is a lot to take on for a player, physically.
"What I'm asking them to do is very demanding. As a coach you have to bear that in mind."
Monk expects Nathan Dyer to be fit for Sunday despite picking up an injury in Naples.
Dyer came off shortly after the hour mark on Thursday night but Monk said: "Nathan landed on his heel, he had some pain but he will be okay."
Fellow midfielder Leon Britton was rested from the game as a precaution following a knock to his knee but he is expected to return, while Jonjo Shelvey (hamstring) and Michu (ankle) remain notable absentees.
Tony Pulis has been left frustrated by a fixture pile-up that could see Crystal Palace's international players feature in three matches in just six days.
The Eagles do not face Swansea until Sunday, and mid-week international fixtures follow, with a number of Pulis' squad looking at playing another 90 minutes when Southampton visit Selhurst Park next Saturday.
With 12 Barclays Premier League games remaining, Pulis does not want to be left counting the cost of fatigue.
"I'm not pleased that we are playing late Sunday," he said.
"Then the lads go off to play on Wednesday and then come back to play Saturday.
"I don't think that is what we need at the present moment, but it isn't just this football club, it is every football club where managers will be concerned about their players."
One thing that has pleased Pulis in the last week has been his squad's reaction to their 2-0 defeat against Manchester United.
Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney scored the goals for the reigning champions at Selhurst Park, but Pulis has been happy with the efforts in training.
"The players have been very good," he said.
"You have runs in the Premier League where you can go three, four or five games without winning. It is important that they understand that and recognise that and keep going. But they have been very good this week, they have worked hard."
Glenn Murray made his first start in nine months against United as he finally looks to put a serious knee injury behind him.
The forward's goals propelled Palace into the play-offs last season and Pulis has backed the 30-year-old to play a big part in the Eagles' fight for top-flight survival.
"I think it was a good game for him to play in in respect it was the champions of England coming to Selhurst," Pulis added.
"The crowd, the atmosphere and everything else I knew would push him on and that is what it has done.
"We desperately need a fit Glenn Murray to be playing in games this year because we think he will score us the goals that will help keep us in the Premier League."
Murray was a slight doubt for Sunday's trip to south Wales but, having been eased back from a knock suffered against United, will be fit and available at the Liberty Stadium.
Jerome Thomas has also returned from a back injury, meaning Pulis has a fully-fit squad to choose from as he looks to pick up a third away win of the season to move further clear of the bottom three.