Joel Ward believes Crystal Palace’s unprecedented Premier League points tally proves that players want veteran manager Roy Hodgson to remain at Selhurst Park.
Former England boss Hodgson, whose existing contract expires in the summer, is scheduled to meet Eagles chairman Steve Parish this week for further talks.
Palace won 1-0 at bitter rivals Brighton on Saturday to take a significant step towards top-flight safety by moving on to 36 points, their highest total after 28 games of any Premier League season.
Asked if the squad are enjoying playing for 72-year-old Hodgson and eager for him to prolong his spell in south London, defender Ward replied: “Yeah, definitely.
“I think you can see that from the results and the way in which we’ve played this season.
“I’m pretty sure it’s our highest points tally we’ve had in the Premier League at this point, so we’d be delighted for that.
“We want to continue to build, continue to move forward, and continue to set our sights high.”
Jordan Ayew’s seventh goal of the season was sufficient to secure bragging rights from the weekend trip to the south coast.
Hosts Brighton dominated the ball for large periods and had 24 attempts at goal but were unable to make a breakthrough as their dismal start to 2020 continued.
The relegation-threatened Seagulls remain the only club in the top four divisions without a victory this calendar year.
Ward admits Palace were forced to scrap for maximum points at the Amex Stadium and suggested television producers may have regretted selecting the game for television coverage.
“Any derby game’s a big game and players who have been at the club a long period of time know what it means to the fans,” said the 30-year-old.
“The games I’ve played (against Brighton), they’ve always been a bit of a scrap and it’s an odd one to have on TV because it ended up being a bit of a scrappy game!
“We’ll take those and sometimes you have to win like that. We came out on top, which is great.”
While Hodgson’s contract is winding down, Albion head coach Graham Potter extended his deal to 2025 at the end of November.
Potter has guided his team to just two top-flight wins from 15 fixtures since agreeing fresh terms to leave the Sussex club precariously placed and only a solitary point above the drop zone ahead of a daunting run of fixtures.
Striker Glenn Murray insists Albion have the experience to handle a relegation scrap.
The 36-year-old said: “We’ve been here before, haven’t we?
“Every year we’ve been in the Premier League, we’ve been fighting for survival so it’s nothing new to us, we don’t think we’re better than this.
“We aim to improve all the time but it’s the scenario we’re in and we’ve got to deal with that situation.”
Brighton’s next seven matches include meetings with Arsenal, Leicester, Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Asked about the tricky forthcoming fixtures, Murray replied: “Listen, if the Premier League was that simple that you sat down and predicted all the scores, who would be interested?
“No one had us winning away at Arsenal (2-1, in December) and playing the way we did, so you just never know with this league and that’s why we love it, and that’s why we watch it. We’re still in it.
“You guys (the media) are talking like we’re relegated already but we’re not and we’ve got plenty of points to play for and we’ll be doing that.”