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Poor away form slowing Crystal Palace promotion charge

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CRYSTAL Palace head to Pride Park this evening looking for their first away win since beating Peterborough United on November 10.

And on Tuesday, Ian Holloway's men welcome fellow promotion chasers Hull City to Selhurst Park.

However, with just over two months of the campaign left, the Eagles need to pick up victories on the road if they are to take one of the automatic promotion places.

Assistant manager Keith Millen is looking forward to both games and insists Palace just need to keep performing and results will come.

"The game against Hull is more important in a way, but we've got to deal with Derby first as a win will put us in a good position," he said.

"We then have two home games, and the more we get towards the end of the season, the more important it becomes.

"But, Hull being where they are, it's not a six-pointer, but they're our rivals for an automatic promotion spot.

"If we keep performing the way we are, we're going to win more than we lose."

Derby have had a steady season but have lacked the consistency needed to break into the top six places, and they haven't won in their last five matches.

However, they have only lost twice at Pride Park, coupled with the fourth-best defence at home this season, so this might not be a straightforward evening for Ian Holloway's men.

And with more than 22,000 fans expected through the turnstiles, there should be a good atmosphere inside the ground.

Wilfried Zaha, at the time of going to press, was still doubtful with a troublesome ankle after complaining in Wednesday's training session, while the game comes too soon for Andre Moritz, who is back in training after an ankle injury of his own, and the likes of Joel Ward and Danny Gabbidon are still unavailable.

The Rams do have some injury problems of their own with defenders Michael Hoganson and Kieron Freeman doubtful, while highly-rated youngster Will Hughes is out with a groin problem.

But on-loan striker Chris Martin could get a start against Palace.

He spent a spell last season on loan at Selhurst Park and netted seven times, which included two against Derby.

However, they do have one of the in-form Championship players in their ranks in Jamie Ward, and boss Nigel Clough believes he is playing some of his best football and can be a big threat to Palace this evening.

"Confidence is the key behind Jamie's form this season and his goals ratio is particularly impressive," he said.

"He looks a real threat and he has an ability to get a goal out of nothing, as well as a creative spark that no-one else can provide."

An even bigger clash is in store against Hull City, with both sides gunning for the second automatic promotion spot alongside Watford.

And of course, the game marks the return of former manager Steve Bruce at Selhurst Park.

Bruce has done a good job taking the Tigers up the table and has formed an attacking side this season, with the likes of Robert Koren, Sone Aluko, Robert Brady and Ahmed Elmohamady catching the eye.

And January loan signing Gedo has proved to be big hit with a number of goals in recent games, so he'll be one Palace need to watch closely.

Both sides played out a goalless draw at the end of November, but it was an entertaining clash with both sets of attacking talent having chances to win the game.

Let's just hope the same happens again on Tuesday – with a Palace win.

Poor away form slowing Crystal Palace promotion charge


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