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Crystal Palace striker Wilbraham happy to back up Murray

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HE has come off the bench in his last six games and made big differences against Peterborough United and Hull City in particular away from home, but Palace striker Aaron Wilbraham is happy to watch Glenn Murray continue his hot streak in front of goal for the time being.

The 33-year-old believes it would be a hard task for any striker to take Murray's place in the starting XI on the back of the 17 goals the forward has scored so far this season.

"He's been on fire, scoring lots of goals and working really hard for the team," Wilbraham told Advertiser Sport.

"The way we play with one target man up front and an attacking midfielder in the hole behind, it would be difficult for any striker to replace him.

"He's a great striker and he moans a lot in training! But he's a good lad and I've got on well with him since I signed.

"He's not got bad banter, but he comes in everyday and works hard like the rest of us, but I think everyone in the squad comes in and doesn't just go through the motions – if we're not at it in training, we're not going to be in the squad on a matchday.

"We've got a big squad and we've got a lot of lads who don't even get on the bench every week, so everyone is sticking together and I think we've got a great team spirit."

However, if given the chance, Wilbraham believes if the formation was to change with two strikers up front, he'd be confident of striking up a good understanding with Murray.

"I've always played well when I've played up front with a big man – someone like Grant Holt last season at Norwich City," he said.

"I link up well with Glenn in training and I think that would be a good partnership as well, but obviously the formation we're playing at the moment is really working for us so we'd be stupid to change that.

"But I think all the strikers at the club are quite experienced and we all know how to play up front with a different strike partner."

When Murray was suspended for the recent away trip to Hull, quite a few of the fans expected Wilbraham to take his place from the start, but manager Ian Holloway opted to go with Jermaine Easter instead.

However, after his introduction 16 minutes into the second-half, Palace looked more of a threat and could have nicked it towards the end through Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie on the back of Wilbraham's link-up play.

"I've got to be patient really," he said. "I wanted to play at Hull but it's the manager's decision. I came on and felt like I did well, but the manager spoke to me and said I'm a big part of his plans.

"I've just got to do my bit for the team when I come on late on in a game, but I'm enjoying it, we're doing really well and the spirit is always good when you're doing well.

"No matter whether I start or come off the bench, I'll always give 100 per cent. I've been around the leagues, I know what football is about and you've just got to give your best at all times."

And what does he think of the new manager since he took over at the start of November?

"He's given everyone a lift," said Wilbraham. "The enthusiasm he's got rubs off on everyone and he's just come in and told us all to stay positive and that he doesn't want any negativity.

"No matter what happens, we've just got to keep playing the we're playing and the results will come – since he's joined, it's really gone well."

Former Eagles boss Dougie Freedman brought Wilbraham to the club in the summer on a free transfer, and even though the striker says they are different in certain ways, he thinks they're both similar when it comes to coaching.

"They are different but they're both really hands-on," he said.

"Sometimes you get football clubs where the assistant manager does a lot of the coaching, but both of them like to get involved and take quite a bit of the training as well as their coaches do, so they're similar in that way.

"But I think Ian Holloway's enthusiasm has given the lads a lift since he took over and he has banter with us. I think when he took over, he didn't want to make drastic changes and I think he's just come in and added his bits to it and it's working well."

Tomorrow, Palace welcome Holloway's former employers Blackpool to Selhurst Park just weeks after leaving Bloomfield Road to make the switch south, and despite his affection for the club, Wilbraham says there will only be one thing on the manager's mind.

He said: "He'll be looking to get the right result for us. He took Blackpool on leaps and bounds from when he took over there. It will be a big day for him on Saturday because he'll still have a lot of respect for the players that he left there and the fans as well."

Crystal Palace striker Wilbraham happy to back up Murray


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