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Fingers crossed for Ward - Pardew

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew is holding out hope defender Joel Ward can overcome his shin injury in time for next weekend's Barclays Premier League trip to Chelsea.

Ward missed his first match of the season as Palace lost 2-0 at home to Hull on Saturday, with Pardew admitting the his team were well below par.

Steve Bruce's relegation-battling Tigers pulled the Eagles' back four apart time and again as Dame N'Doye's double eased their drop fears.

Former Newcastle boss Pardew knows Palace can ill afford any repeat of that disarray at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and is upbeat Ward's return could boost his side's stability.

"We're fingers crossed for Chelsea for Joel - I'm sure Chelsea aren't, but we are, b ecause he's an important player for us who has had a great season, and he was a loss to us (on Saturday) for sure," the 53-year-old said.

"He had a shin injury he picked up in training this week."

Senegal star N'Doye missed a host of chances before claiming a second-half brace at Selhurst Park that kept Hull out of the relegation zone.

Bruce's men must still face Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United - a fixture run that led to relief in victory in south London.

Palace are all but mathematically safe thanks to Pardew's impressive stewardship following his January arrival.

The Eagles have slipped off the Premier League pace in the last two weeks, however, with consecutive home defeats to West Brom and now Hull.

Pardew conceded in advance of facing Steve Bruce's side that it would be impossible for Palace to match the visitors' desire given their relegation battle.

The former Palace midfielder had certainly not banked on such a lacklustre showing, however, admitting he will be at pains to demand improvements right across the pitch this week.

"Missing Wardy was a problem for us against Hull," Pardew said.

"We were poor. We weren't at it at all, and we'll address that in our way.

"It's hard to say what was missing.

"We missed a little bit of quality from the back, midfield wasn't quite as I would have liked and our forward line wasn't quite as I would have liked."

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