Belfast Telegraph

Crystal Palace already looking up as Sam Allardyce wins over Eagles players

Martin Kelly has revealed Sam Allardyce has won over Crystal Palace's squad to the extent that avoiding relegation is no longer the limit of their ambitions.

Allardyce was on Friday appointed as Alan Pardew's successor and oversaw his first game as manager of 17th-placed Palace in Monday's 1-1 draw at Watford.

They produced an improved performance until, during the second half, appearing to lose confidence and conceding the penalty from which Troy Deeney scored Watford's equalising goal, but the manager remained adamant he saw numerous positives from his team.

Defender Kelly's position is expected to come under threat in January with Palace likely to recruit a new full-back to replace the injured Pape Souare.

But discussing the impact Allardyce has already made in his early days at the club, the 26-year-old said: "Sam brings his experience and we're all on board with his philosophy.

"He hasn't had long to work with us; we just had a quick turnaround on Christmas Eve and we've played early doors on Boxing Day.

"It's exciting to have him as our manager and we just hope we can all come together to give him the results that he and the fans want moving forward as a club.

"For us, we have to turn up with a game plan, so come a few months' time we're in a better position.

"We're talking about pushing on in the league instead of looking down the bottom.

"Football is crazy nowadays with the changeover of managers. We all have the greatest respect for Alan and what he had done with us, the players, and his time at the club and what he did as a player."

Discussing a potential change in position from full-back, where he has occasionally struggled this season, to central defence, Kelly added: " I'm a defender who plays across the back four. I'd love centre-half as well some day; I can see myself fulfilling my true potential there.

"I am looking forward to working with Sam. He was a centre-half himself, so he should bring his experience to our club."

Watford's Deeney was surprisingly among the substitutes after his run of 10 games without scoring, but was needed inside the opening quarter of an hour after Valon Behrami came off injured.

The striker and captain's penalty ended his lengthy pursuit of his 100th goal for the club, and Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes said: "It's something that was on his shoulders for a long time.

"He was trying and pushing hard but as with the whole team sometimes it didn't work.

"It was great. I'm pleased for him. It is a good moment in Watford's history and he's our captain. He always shows his passion for the club and it's a good mark for him."

First-half injuries suffered by Daryl Janmaat and Behrami further weakened a squad already undermined by numerous absentees, and asked if he had ever previously experienced such an injury crisis, Gomes said: "No, not like we are having at the minute.

"Sometimes we play games closer to each other, sometimes we have a long time to recover but we don't recover, because we train hard. The players are trying to get used to the way but I believe it's up to us."

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