Reaction to Freedman's exit shows Eagles are genuine title hopefuls

News Shopper: Jonathan Parr is pulled back by Derby's Paul Coutts as Palace go on the attack again in Saturday's 3-0 victory. PICTURE BY ALAN STANFORD. Jonathan Parr is pulled back by Derby's Paul Coutts as Palace go on the attack again in Saturday's 3-0 victory. PICTURE BY ALAN STANFORD.

EAGLES columnist SAM ROSS has been extremely impressed by the way Crystal Palace's players have not let Dougie Freedman's departure to Bolton disrupt their title challenge.

WITH an incredible unbeaten run of 14 games and a winning streak of five, things are looking rather rosy, to say the least, at Selhurst.

My biggest worry when Dougie Freedman left was the spirit around the club would have gone with him.

But one thing I underestimated was the huge amount of pride and passion the players feel for Crystal Palace.

The Eagles are beginning to scare a lot of teams this season and despite what many outside Palace think, it’s pleasing to see a host of players have proved they have the ability to be match winners, not just Wilfried Zaha.

Damien Delaney has been a revelation, while Yannick Bolasie and Andre Moritz have had no trouble settling in at Selhurst.

Glenn Murray, like many Palace fans predicted, is a different player this season and has already doubled his tally from last year.

I believe he will challenge Charlie Austin all the way for the league’s top goal scorer this year.

The ever presence of Kagisho Dikgacoi alongside the exceptional Mile Jedinak is a solid partnership which many teams are struggling to break down.

So the starting XI is incredibly strong but how good is the quality in depth at Palace when injury strikes?

Dikgacoi will be ruled out when he plays for South Africa in the African Cup of Nations but I feel we have plenty of back up in midfield.

Owen Garvan is more than capable, while Stuart O’Keefe must be itching for a chance, he is certainly good enough.

The lack of central defenders is a concern, though.

The last time Palace had a centre-half on the bench was Aaron Martin against Barnsley, six games ago.

Danny Gabbidon clearly, and unsurprisingly, hasn’t impressed since his arrival and Darcy Blake or Dean Moxey cannot be expected to fill in.

Thankfully Paddy McCarthy is expected back around the New Year and looks set to replace Peter Ramage. Up front, Jermaine Easter and Aaron Wilbraham haven’t produced enough just yet to prove they can fill Murray’s shoes. An injury to Murray could be Palace’s Achilles heel this season.

Many fans are rightly getting excited at the prospect of promotion this year but for me failure to get promoted wouldn’t be a problem.

But pleasingly for once, Palace’s fate is all in their own hands.

The Eagles travel to face former manager Neil Warnock at Leeds on Saturday and the days when he left what seemed a dying club are well and truly gone. CPFC 2010 deserve huge credit for bringing Palace back to life so well.

Being a Palace fan is fantastic value for money at the moment, I for one am loving the ride at Selhurst and long may that continue, wherever it takes me.

I wonder how many fans can say that about their club right now?

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