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Team News: Sako Fit, Gayle & Wickham Close


13:23 7th January 2016

Alan Pardew has confirmed that Palace winger Bakary Sako will be fit for the Emirates FA Cup trip to Southampton on Saturday, giving the squad a boost ahead of three consecutive away games.

Sako hasn't played since the Premier League home game against Sunderland, in which he appeared as a second half substitute before having to bow out with a hamstring problem.

"Sako is definitely available for this one on Saturday, so really good news on that front," he said.

"He's important for us because he can get a goal out of nothing and that's something that is top of my agenda at the moment: scoring goals. He gives me a weapon that I haven't had for five or six games. He has a shot in both feet that has more venom than perhaps 95% of players in the Premier League."

His return will give Pardew an additional option going forward for the trips to St Mary's, Villa Park and the Etihad over the next week, with fellow attacking players Dwight Gayle and Connor Wickham looking likely to feature on Tuesday night at Aston Villa.

"He's (Gayle) coming back to fitness [which is] very important," he said. "Him and Connor Wickham are making great progress. We think they'll be available for Aston Villa, which is the next game [after Saturday]."

You can watch Alan Pardew's full pre-Saints press conference, in which he talks FA Cup ambitions, transfer speculations, Pep Guardiola and more, for free HERE.