Back to the day job for Crystal Palace as they take on Burnley away
BEFORE you can all look forward to next Tuesday's FA Cup third round replay at Stoke City, there is the other important matter of Burnley in the Championship for Palace to deal with.
Despite a rocky December, the Eagles managed to keep in touch with the teams around them at the top of the league, with just a narrow defeat to Cardiff City the only dampener.
A new year is about a fresh start for many, and even though that may not have been the case for Ian Holloway's side after a great season so far, they began 2013 with a bang against Wolverhampton Wanderers and a gutsy display against Stoke.
And another gritty performance could be required again tomorrow as Palace travel to the north west to tackle Burnley at Turf Moor.
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Glenn Murray missed the goalless draw against Stoke through illness, but manager Ian Holloway confirmed to Advertiser Sport this week that his top goalscorer has resumed training and is set to make the journey, while Wilfried Zaha returned to training on Tuesday following an injury against Tony Pulis' side.
Midfielder Owen Garvan went for a second scan on his knee last Friday and the worst was confirmed by Holloway, with the Irishman will miss the next three months.
That could mean Andre Moritz will become a regular in the side, while Jonathan Williams has returned to the first team squad looking very bright in the last three matches with substitute appearances.
Moritz boosted his credentials with a fine display against Wolves, including his two superb free-kicks, but with Kagisho Dikgacoi away on international duty in the African Cup of Nations, you would think Holloway would be in the market for a central midfielder this month.
However, the manager has suggested he is prepared to give Stuart O'Keefe a chance, and the midfielder did not disappoint last weekend, so he could be thrown in against Burnley.
Goalkeeper Julian Speroni is set to come back in, despite a good performance by Lewis Price last weekend, while Dean Moxey has come back into the side and looked bright with some good runs and deliveries down the left.
But does Jonathan Parr really like playing out of position at right-back?
From the past two games, the answer to that suggests the very opposite with two good displays, but with Joel Ward out for another three weeks, we may see a loan signing brought in to aid that area of the pitch.
Central defender Aaron Martin returned to parent club Southampton at the start of January, and while there is still no sign of Paddy McCarthy's return, plus an injury to Danny Gabbidon, Palace suddenly look a bit light in that department.
Earlier this week, Holloway confirmed that he was to give Welshman Gabbidon a chance to prove his fitness by Thursday, so it could be a late decision whether to risk him at Turf Moor, especially when the boss will need as many options available to him ahead of Stoke.
In terms of the opposition, Brian Stock is set to serve a suspension against the Eagles after his red card against Barnsley in the FA Cup last weekend.
And top marksman Charlie Austin may also miss the game after suffering a hamstring injury. However, Burnley boss Sean Dyche was optimistic that his star striker would not be out for too long, so he may surprise us all and recall him.
But Dyche may welcome back Chris McCann (hamstring) and Martin Paterson (thigh) from injury after both were taken off as a precaution in their recent win over Sheffield Wednesday, while Dean Marney and Junior Stanislas are likely to feature.
Meanwhile, Jamaican international Dane Richards is set for his league debut, having signed for the club from the Vancouver Whitecaps, and he is likely to come up against Moxey down the right side of midfield.
Dyche may look to play a 4-4-2 formation, and everyone remembers that thrilling 4-3 game in October the last time the two clubs met, so hopefully we'll be in for an entertaining game again – and a Palace victory, of course.
A win for Holloway would also be his first as a manager at Turf Moor.