Grant takes stock for Palace clash

Peter Grant may have to wait until this morning before being able to name his side for this afternoon's New Day's day clash at Crystal Palace.

Peter Grant may have to wait until this morning before being able to name his side for this afternoon's New Day's day clash at Crystal Palace.

The players were due in for training at Colney yesterday when the City boss was due to take his first head count - then there is the recovery period for players like Dion Dublin, Lee Croft and Youssef Safri to take into account.

At 37, Dublin is wrapped in cotton wool, while Croft and Safri have, because of injury and selection issues, not been regulars for several weeks.

Peter Thorne missed the weekend win over QPR with a neck injury, although he is likely to be available today, while Grant also has Ryan Jarvis as an option. Midfielder Carl Robinson is available after missing Saturday through suspension. Robert Earnshaw needed treatment in the second half but carried on, although Grant admitted his leading scorer had taken a few kicks.

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“It's very difficult with Dion - he is very, very tired, a lot of he boys are,” Grant said. “Lee Croft, Saff - they've not had a lot of games recently. We will have a head count and see how things are, but the big guy just wants to play all the time, and I have got to make sure he is able to play, that is more important.

“If you ask Dion now he'd say he is available because he is desperate to play. Sometimes during the week when we haven't had a game I've given him off until the Thursday because I feel at that age that's important for him and I know he is a terrific professional so I have no qualms about that. But with the games coming in quick succession I will have to wait and see on that one.

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“Peter had a stiff neck and felt okay to go on bench. We will assess him - if he had played today we felt he wouldn't have a chance for Monday. It is important to balance him and Dion and I just couldn't take that chance because for the first time I am looking at two games and I don't like looking at that.

“There are a few boys a bit sore but when you win games you always feel happier. Hopefully after today they all want to play - and then it's me making the right choices and making sure I am going to get the benefit of the full squad.”

With a trip to the Palace coming up this afternoon, Grant says the QPR game is “dead and buried” - although the post match inquest suggests that the improved performance has given the team a much-needed confidence boost.

“That's much more like it,” he said. “I have always said I want to play front football here and I felt we played most of the game in QPR's half. We pushed the game up we closed the game down in the opposition's half and won a lot more ball in the opposition's half and that's the way I want to play.

“In the last few home games we have not done that, we have taken a backward step, we have been defending too deep and that drops everybody off, it means the midfield can't get close enough.

“Today with the back boys pushing right up it meant the midfield got close to the opposition's midfield and it meant we created more chances, and probably that's the only disappointing thing about the performance - the fact that we had far too many chances and never killed then game off.

“I have been critical about things even when we have won, but today was about winning, to give them confidence in themselves that if they do things in the proper manner, like make the game smaller as in pushing the game up, taking that on board and winning from it and creating as many chances as we do - hopefully that gives them the belief to do that.”

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