Palace striker Dwight Gayle believes his hat-trick against Walsall last night has eased some of the pressure he has been putting on himself to score goals.
Gayle marked his first start of the season with a stunning first half treble at Banks’s Stadium as the Eagles soared into the third round of the Capital One Cup.
And the ex-Peterborough man, who was Palace’s joint-top scorer last season, was relieved to get off the mark following a goalless pre-season.
“It's always nice to score a hat-trick and obviously more importantly get the win to go through to the next round,” he said.
“You go into each game hoping to get a goal, but to get three was a nice achievement today.
“I haven't been scoring too much. I hadn't scored in pre-season, these were my first goals of the season, so I've been under a bit of pressure and been putting pressure on myself. To get the goals today has lifted a bit of that pressure and hopefully I can kick on from there.
“But the boys played well today. I had a lot of service and if I'd been a couple of inches taller I might have got a couple more from some of the crosses that came in!
“It was my first start this season so I wanted to prove something, along with all the boys that played tonight who haven't always been playing. We all wanted to prove something and hopefully we did that today.”
Gayle’s hat-trick – which was the first to be scored by a Palace player in the League Cup since Ian Wright and Mark Bright both bagged three apiece in the 8-0 demolition of Southend United in September 1990 – has put him bang in contention for a starting berth against Newcastle United on Saturday, despite the fact he was forced off early by a tight groin.
“It's the manager's choice at the end of the day whether I'm given the go ahead or not,” Gayle said.
“If I am, I'm ready to play. But we've got some very good strikers here, so even if I am on the bench I'll be ready to come on and make an impact.”
Keith Millen is gearing up to take caretaker charge of that match on Tyneside as the hunt for Tony Pulis’ permanent successor continues, but Gayle says the players are concentrating purely on the football rather than goings on off the field at Selhurst Park.
“The boys are all focused on what we've got to do and we'll leave the backroom staff to do what they've got to do,” he added.
“When we get out there we just concentrate on the game and as you've seen today we are ready to play football and win games.
“We just try and block everything else out, concentrate on the game and take it for what it is. We need results, so hopefully we can this into Saturday's game and get the three points.”