Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew admits his out-of-sorts side face a battle for Premier League survival after a worrying slump in form which has derailed their quest for a top-six finish.
The Eagles will bid to end a 10-match winless streak in the league, dating back to December’s victory over Stoke City, when they face struggling Sunderland at the Stadium of Light tomorrow evening.
Should results conspire against them, Palace could end this round of fixtures just five points clear of the relegation zone -- a far cry from their early season form which hinted at a challenge for European football next term.
“Are we in a relegation fight? Yes, of course we are,” said Pardew. “We keep losing. There is no talk of Europe at the club. We are focused now on what Crystal Palace need to deliver over the next 10 games.
“That doesn’t mean to say we can’t have our strongest ever finish in the Premier League. We can do that, we have the capability but we need to kick into gear.”
Palace’s saving grace has been an FA Cup run which sees the Selhurst Park club travel to the Madejski Stadium next week for an FA Cup quarter-final showdown against Championship outfit Reading.
Despite his side’s recent troubles, Pardew, who faced almost constant speculation over his future while manager of Newcastle United, insists he has no such worries at Palace.
“I don’t fear for my job at this football club,” added Pardew. “The pressure I am under is the normal pressure of a Premier League manager winning games.
“We are not going to put our head in the sand. We are going to have to deliver a performance and that’s what we’ll try to do on Tuesday night.”