Belfast Telegraph

Warnock plans busy January sales

Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock admits the club must make "two or three" signings in January to boost their chances of Barclays Premier League survival.

Palace have won just once in nine games ahead of a crucial Christmas period that includes matches against Manchester City, Southampton and fellow strugglers QPR.

Only two points currently separate the Eagles from the bottom three and Warnock believes it will be essential to strengthen the squad when the transfer window opens.

"We've got to bring players in," said Warnock, whose side host Stoke on Saturday.

"Without knocking our players, they've got to be better than we've already got and it takes quite a lot of money to do that.

"We've got some good players so it's just trying to add two or three players to the squad that we've got to give us that bit more in depth.

"The substitutes' bench hasn't had a lot of players on it for me to change a game so that's something for the second half of the season, where we can look to influence the game by the substitutes."

Palace have struggled for goals in recent games, scoring just once in their last three league outings.

Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha both impressed during a goalless draw at Tottenham last weekend but the Eagles lack enough cutting edge in the final third to snatch victory.

"I think we've known all along that we haven't got that clinical striker," Warnock said.

"I think we've scored quite a few goals over the season but they just seem to be in spurts. When we score, we score three.

"We've got to start putting lesser chances away that would have earned us quite a lot more points."

Defensive midfielder Mile Jedinak is the club's top scorer in the league this term with five goals, three of which came from the penalty spot.

Marouane Chamakh, Dwight Gayle and Fraizer Campbell have all struggled for form while experienced frontman Andrew Johnson has been sidelined with injuries.

Damien Delaney could return to the Eagles starting line-up on Saturday. The defender was on the bench for the goalless draw against Tottenham last weekend but is now considered fully fit, having recovered from a calf injury.

Midfielder Jason Puncheon will be assessed after missing training on Thursday through illness while Joe Ledley (hip) and Adrian Mariappa (knee) are both ruled out.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes will be hoping for more magic from Bojan Krkic as his side attempt to make it back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season.

The former Barcelona man struggled initially after signing for the Potters in the summer but, since coming back into the team at the end of October, he has got better and better.

It was Bojan who stood out as the most influential player on the pitch as Stoke stunned Arsenal last weekend, scoring the second goal in a 3-2 victory.

This weekend the Potters head to Palace, and manager Hughes said of Bojan: "Arguably he's been our best performer since he's come back in.

"He's worked hard, he's listened, understood what's required and when he came back in I knew he was ready. I can't claim to have known he would perform so well but certainly there was a good chance.

"He wasn't affecting games in the manner we would have liked initially, but that was to be expected. We can't get too carried away because there is still a lot more to come from him, and that is exciting.

"He didn't come in here in the summer wanting a 12 month contract - he made a big commitment to us, just as we made one to him too. He needed that stability (of a four-year deal) to be effective in the Premier League and for us.

"It's still early days. He's only had five or six games at the level he needs to be but he's playing with a smile on his face, his team-mates understand what he can give them and he helps as well with his work ethic - and he's a good kid."

The heated atmosphere at the Britannia Stadium certainly helped Stoke against Arsenal, but Hughes knows the boot will be on the other foot at Selhurst Park.

He said: "It's a great atmosphere down there. I always found that as a player and it's not changed since I have been in management.

"The last couple of years it seems to have gone up a notch, just as that happened here when this club won promotion.

"We get the benefit of it at the Brit and I think that should be encouraged, it's a great atmosphere to be involved in. They will look to use it to their advantage on Saturday, but we will go down there and enjoy it, and hopefully pick up the result we believe we are capable of."

Hughes looks set to be without defender Marc Muniesa, who tweaked his hamstring against Arsenal, but Jonathan Walters is available despite an ongoing knee problem.

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