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MATCH PREVIEW: Hull City vs Crystal Palace


PALACE embark on a run of games which could see them climb out of the relegation zone by the beginning of December, starting with a trip to fellow promoted outfit Hull City this weekend.

The Tigers have made a good start to Premier League life, but they are likely to be in the bottom half of the division by the end of season – competing with the Eagles to stay up.

These next four games for Palace are huge, no doubt about it. They've played a few of the big guns in the shape of Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool, but now it's time to face some of the sides they do have a good chance against.

Arguably, at least two wins are imperative, and it does not matter how, they just need to get the points on the board heading into the Christmas period.

At the time of going to press, no new manager had been announced, so caretaker boss Keith Millen looks set to be in charge again for his fourth game.

However, Tony Pulis was said to be in "advanced talks" with co-chairman Steve Parish, and should they be successful, the former Stoke City boss might be in the stands at the KC Stadium to watch his new side.

There is some good news on the injury front involving Jonny Williams, who completed 45 minutes on his comeback on Tuesday for the U21 squad – and there is a chance he will be in the squad tomorrow.

Millen said: "It's great to have him back. Certainly, I think he'll come back into the squad.

"You want the likes of Jonny around as he livens it up and he's a great kid to work with. I will check with the physio but he's a fit young man anyway.

"He could come into the squad, indeed."

Defender Jack Hunt is also nearing a return to training after breaking his ankle in September.

The backline of Joel Ward, Danny Gabbidon, Damien Delaney and Dean Moxey look set to continue following their clean sheet against Everton two weeks ago.

In midfield, there are plenty of options, but there is one injury concern involving Jerome Thomas, who has a groin problem picked up in training on Monday.

"The only downside this week has been Jerome Thomas – he's hurt his groin," confirmed Millen.

"We'll certainly have a look at him. Everyone else is OK though."

Barry Bannan can't be criticised much for his performances lately, so he'll be pushing for a start, possibly in the middle of the park with Mile Jedinak and Kagisho Dikgacoi. All three returned from international duty on Wednesday and will be assessed.

In attack, Cameron Jerome came on and looked lively against Everton, so he'll be vying for a starting spot instead of Marouane Chamakh.

The Moroccan did put in a good shift two weeks ago but missed a sitter in front of goal with a free header.

As for the hosts, goalkeeper Allan McGregor is in contention for a shock recall following injury.

The Scotland international has been sidelined since the end of October with a thigh problem and was initially told he would face up to six weeks out of action.

A final decision over McGregor's inclusion against Palace is unlikely to come until Friday and any fitness reservations would leave the door open for the dependable Steve Harper to continue in goal.

Robbie Brady is also expected to be welcomed back to face Palace after a hernia problem, but the game comes too soon for defender James Chester.

Striker Sone Aluko has been ruled out until February with an Achilles problem, while midfielder Stephen Quinn suffered a hamstring strain while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

It appears highly unlikely he will be rushed back to face Palace, especially given the availability of Brady, George Boyd and Robert Koren.

And Millen has pointed out his side will have to watch Brady in particular after an impressive start to the new campaign.

"Hull have changed their formation at times and have gone with three at the back, or they've gone 4-4-1-1, so they've chopped and changed," he said.

"It's not an easy one to read from our perspective. They do have good home form and it's a tough place to go.

"One player we will have to watch is Robbie Brady – he's a good player and has a good left foot on him.

"I think we'll show Hull as much respect as we did with Everton. You'll get beaten anywhere in this league if you think you can open yourself up and go all-out attack.

"They have had a good start, Hull. I think our players will be in a good frame of mind, and they will be coming up against some of the players who were in the Championship last season – that might give them some belief.

"Sometimes when you look at the teamsheet against your Man Uniteds and your Liverpools, there are world class names on there, but I don't think our lads have been overawed by that.

"We've got to make sure we're solid, stay in the game and definitely take our chances."

MATCH PREVIEW: Hull City vs Crystal Palace

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