Sam Allardyce knows Mamadou Sakho's permanent signing would be tough
Sam Allardyce has lauded Mamadou Sakho's arrival at Crystal Palace for giving his side more defensive stability - but admits a permanent deal for the Liverpool defender would require a "big negotiation".
The 27-year-old France international moved to Selhurst Park on loan in the January transfer window shortly after Allardyce replaced Alan Pardew at the helm.
Sakho had not played for Liverpool all season and had to work on his fitness before coming into the Palace side for the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough last month.
He was also in the team which secured a 2-0 victory at West Brom to take the Eagles out of the Premier League bottom three.
Until that point, Allardyce had lamented his side for their inability to keep clean sheets, specifically after they were hammered 4-0 at home by bottom side Sunderland.
But now he has Sakho, as well as fellow new recruits Patrick van Aanholt and Luka Milivojevic, the former England boss reckons his side are much harder to break down.
"I think two people on this front, Luka & Mama have given us more defensive resilience," he said.
"We are more defensive in terms of the capabilities of looking after the opposition's attacking forces, and have been improved by those two players and Patrick.
"We have found that we are more difficult to score against which has been one of my first aims, my first targets ever since I first came here.
"Once we began to do that we began to win football matches and three wins out of five have all come because we can keep clean sheets, so the basis of our defensive unit has grown and got better and that has been a good way forward for us to get out of the trouble we are in.
"Mama has played a big part in that, as have Luka and Patrick, and the whole team as a whole are defending better."
Sakho will no doubt remain at the heart of the Palace defence when they welcome Watford to south London on Saturday.
But they will be without Van Aanholt, who is recovering from an ankle injury.
Loanee Loic Remy is expected to return after the international break, while Connor Wickham and Pape Souare are still missing.
Watford head coach Walter Mazzarri believes his side's break will stand them in good stead.
The Hornets' exit from the FA Cup, at the hands of League One club Millwall, together with Chelsea's progression and the forthcoming international break, means that Mazzarri's men will play only two matches during March.
Watford began the month with a 4-3 home defeat to Southampton.
"It is not often that you only have two games in such a long period and these 15 days have only been a benefit for us," he said.
"We have improved some of the details and the small things that we needed to improve, which is important for the future and the remaining games.
"I want to make them understand the mentality they need every game and I think in the past fortnight, it helped because we had the whole group together and we were able to speak about this.
"We have 11 games left and I think the team will produce the performances I want in these 11 games."
Etienne Capoue may miss the trip to Palace through illness, but right-back Daryl Janmaat (groin) and midfielder Nordin Amrabat (ankle) are back in contention.