Roy Hodgson says his players are aware of the importance of tonight's clash with Brighton, and that he has full belief in their ability to secure a result.
“There is a bit more spice to this one,” he said in his pre-match interview, “because of the rivalry over the years between the two teams. There’s some bad blood which dates back to the 1970s.
“I think that the players playing tonight for Brighton or Crystal Palace know it is a historical event. They realise it is an important game for the fans, and I’m certain that Brighton and ourselves will be doing our level best to show the right level of desire to appease the fans and to show them that we care.”
Hodgson said he felt the match was the perfect time to give new signing Jean-Philippe Mateta another spot in the starting lineup.
“It was an opportunity to give one or two players who haven’t had an opportunity to play,” he said, “and in particular Mateta. I thought tonight was the right time to give him a start and to see what he can do.
“The players know we have faith in them, they know what we expect of them and what we want them to do. Now it’s up to them as artists to go out there and show they have that ability and prove that our faith in them has been justified.”
The manager called for “courage” from his players to make their mark on proceedings.
“First we have to defend properly,” he pointed out, “and make certain they don’t overrun you in any way.
“Then, when you get the ball, you have to show the confidence and the courage and the belief to show that you can play the game, and you can use the players you have in your team to ask questions of them they find hard to answer.
“The big question all the time is: are the players able to produce that performance? Sometimes, that’s all you can hope for, that the players understand what is needed, and they give their best; that they make sure they leave the field without us being able to accuse them of not giving their best or doing what we asked them to do.”