Crystal Palace V Newcastle at Selhurst Park : Match Preview
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Gabbidon targets festive gains
Crystal Palace defender Danny Gabbidon believes a strong showing over the busy festive period could leave the Eagles targeting a place in the middle of the Barclays Premier League.
Newcastle travel to Selhurst Park on Saturday with Palace currently inside the relegation zone and just one point from safety after being bottom of the table for several weeks.
New manager Tony Pulis has overseen two wins out of four since replacing Ian Holloway at the helm and Gabbidon wants to see that sort of form continue over the coming weeks.
"We looked at our recent run as a block of five games and had targets, everyone looks at the Christmas period as a similar thing," he said.
"If you can pick up two or three wins it can really push you on for the rest of the season. I think we have done well the last couple of weeks and got ourselves back in to a much better position.
"If we can go through the Christmas period and pick up a few points then we are well on our way and maybe can be looking at getting up towards the mid-table region.
"We are learning and improving all of the time with every game and confidence is getting better and better with each game."
Both home games under Pulis have ended in victory, with the ex-Stoke manager overseeing wins over both West Ham and Cardiff, and Wales international Gabbidon feels the extra work being asked of the players on the training ground is starting to pay dividends.
"Every manager is different and I think on the pitch you can see that we are putting in a lot more hard work," he said.
"The manager wants us working hard as a team and it isn't about the individuals.
"Everyone needs to put a shift in and look at helping each other and do their own job and I think you can see that since he came in to the club.
"We have put a lot of work in on the training ground with our shape and organisation and that goes a long way in this league.
"If you can be organised and keep yourself in games and make yourself hard to beat and pick up one point when you can't get three then it all helps.
"It has been a tough couple of weeks, the intensity in training and the work rate has got up a lot so we are trying to adjust to that as well but everyone has been doing really well."
Defender Dean Moxey has recovered from a hamstring injury in time to be in the Palace squad but manager Tony Pulis will have to give late fitness tests to midfield duo Stuart O'Keefe and Kagisho Dikgacoi, who both have small muscular complaints.
Alan Pardew is convinced modern-day players are still motivated by the same things which sparked his own rise from non-league to the big stage.
The 52-year-old did not get his big break in the game until the age of almost 26, when Palace handed him his first full-time professional contract to end his days combining football with his job as a glazier.
On Saturday, he will return to Selhurst Park in charge of a squad of millionaires who have known little of the hardship he endured on his road to the top flight.
However, he insists all that is irrelevant once they enter the dressing room.
Pardew said: "Footballers are winners and the money doesn't have too much impact, really, once you are in the dressing room.
"It's actually getting to the dressing room, from Monday to Friday, that their lives are different, great big houses and great big cars and God knows what else.
"But actually when you go into the dressing room, it's still a competitive nature and players who want to win and money doesn't - or shouldn't - come into it."
Pardew joined Palace from Yeovil in March 1987 and went on to make 160 appearances - including an FA Cup final run-out against Manchester United - during four and a half years with the club under then manager Steve Coppell playing alongside the likes of Nigel Martyn, Geoff Thomas, John Salako, Ian Wright and Mark Bright.
That kind of progression seems almost impossible nowadays in an age when club academies are sourcing players from such a young age, but he hopes it is because of the lessons it taught him.
Pardew said: "I'd like to think so because I wouldn't swap the way my career evolved, if I am honest.
"I gained great experience in that non-league of how to win games and the grind of non-league football, working and then really coming to the professional world and thinking, 'Well, this is an easy life'.
"But it isn't that easy after a while. It took me a while to break in, but when I broke in, I was lucky to have two great strikers in the team and we had a great run.
"We reached the cup final and finished third in the league the last year I was year. It was a phenomenal team that Steve put together there."
However, there will be little sentiment on Pardew's part this weekend as he attempts to get the better of his former employers to extend Newcastle's run of good form.
The Magpies passed up an opportunity to win for the sixth time in seven Barclays Premier League outings last Saturday when Southampton came from behind at St James' Park to claim a point and, with midfield playmaker Yohan Cabaye back from suspension, the manager is keen to make amends in South London.
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