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Virus puts Palace plan into chaos

Dougie Freedman expected to endure a sleepless night last night in anticipation of the phone call this morning that could determine the prospects of his Crystal Palace side against Cardiff City in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final tonight.

Twelve months into his first managerial job, Freedman faces a problem that would tax his more experienced peers after a virus passed through his squad rendering a number of key players doubtful for the club's biggest game in years.

Freedman has been forced to quarantine some of his squad but fears that may not be enough to prevent more last-minute drop-outs. Nathaniel Clyne, Paddy McCarthy, Anthony Gardner, Mile Jedinak and Sean Scannell are the main doubts, and the manager said: "I don't know about my team until five o'clock. My worry is if it catches any more.

"I know who's got it and who's getting better but I don't know who is going to catch it. I'm dreading the phone call in the morning that somebody new has got it.

"Everybody knows what to do now. They have a number to call for the doctor and know that they have to call if they have any symptoms. In terms of preparation, they will turn up and whoever I see tomorrow, I'll try and pick the best team."

Freedman could be forgiven for adopting a tone of frustration at the situation but he insisted that it's not the worst-case scenario. "It could happen before the second leg when we could be losing it so it could be worse," he said.

"The virus won't change ambition, it will change personnel. There's no need to open up in the first leg, we've got 180 minutes."

Crystal Palace v Cardiff,

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Irish Independent