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Fulham v Crystal Palace: Eagles aim to rub salt into the relegated Cottagers wounds


THE final game of the season is here – and what a campaign it has been.

No final-day scrap and no relying on other clubs for help, Palace have been comfortable for three weeks and certainly produced an electric performance on Monday against Liverpool.

Against an already relegated Fulham this Sunday, the Eagles can stick the knife in even further if they play their cards right.

We could see a number of changes for both sides on Sunday though, with Dwight Gayle and Glenn Murray pushing for starts in what could be a lethal partnership heading into the summer.

Julian Speroni, the fans' player of the year, could also be rested as talks over a new contract look certain to commence next week, and Wayne Hennessey may get a run-out instead at Craven Cottage.

Danny Gabbidon, Paddy McCarthy and Jonathan Parr may also get some game-time to end the season in defence, with the latter also set to find out if he will be offered fresh terms.

Eagles winger Yannick Bolasie wants to come away with three points to compound the hosts' misery further as they prepare for life in the Championship.

He said: "Football is a strange game. At the start of last season we were in the bottom three of the Championship but ended up getting promoted. It was doom and gloom here when Fulham beat us 4-1 in October. Everyone thought it was going to be a long season so it's funny how things turn out.

"They will have pride to play for and they will want to show they can bounce straight back next season.

"Everyone knows the Championship is tough. It's a strange league. As for us, we'll be going into the game confident and looking to end the season on a positive note."

Indeed, defender Scott Dann insists Palace will not want to let their season peter out just yet after the thrilling comeback against Liverpool – and he is targeting nothing but a victory.

"It would be a massive achievement to finish in the top half," he said.

"It was a massive achievement in getting ourselves safe, ever so safe with three or four games to go.

"I think we showed against Liverpool, even though we were three goals behind, that we're a top side and we fought back.

"We showed we didn't want to just let the season fizzle out and just the let games pass us by. We want to win and that will be no different come Sunday.

"With the goals we scored on Monday, we'll hopefully take the game to Fulham and come away with the points."

And Joe Ledley has echoed Dann's comments and wants to finish on 47 points – a feat no one could imagine last October when Fulham thumped the Eagles.

He said: "They are down and they've got no pressure. It will be an intense game and we're not going to switch off.

"The more points, the better."

At the time of going to press, Palace had no new injury concerns.

On top of those possible changes mentioned, Kagisho Dikgacoi will want to face his former side, while Stuart O'Keefe may also feature.

Bolasie and fellow winger Jason Puncheon look set to continue though, although Ledley can operate on the left if needed. Marouane Chamakh is also set for talks about staying, yet Sunday could be his last game for Palace.

A lot has changed since that 4-1 defeat by the Cottagers last year and, for Fulham, their planning for an instant top-flight return starts now and we could see some of their youngsters given the nod to impress.

Wandsworth-born Steve Sidwell has been earmarked as a possible signing for Palace in the summer and he has been one of the few successes in a poor season at Craven Cottage with eight goals.

He could line up in the middle of the park with Scott Parker, with Spurs loan signing Lewis Holtby cutting in from the left and Ashkan Dejagah from the right.

Manager Felix Magath wrote an open letter to Fulham fans earlier this week and he wants his side to put in a performance against Palace for them.

He wrote: "The reality is that we have been relegated, but my commitment and desire to Fulham remains.

"In the short space of time that I have spent here, I have been very impressed with so many aspects of our football club and, with this in mind, my one priority is to give Premier League football back to you.

"On Sunday, we play our final game of this season against Crystal Palace, and we owe it to you [Fulham's fans] to put on a good performance that is worthy of your fantastic support."

Fulham v Crystal Palace: Eagles aim to rub salt into the relegated Cottagers wounds

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