Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew has urged his players to write themselves into club folklore by going full throttle in pursuit of the first major honour in the Eagles’ history.
Although their Premier League form has taken a nosedive in recent months, Palace face Championship side Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Friday for a place in the FA Cup semi-final.
Palace have slipped to 15th in the league, having failed to win in 12 matches dating back to 19 December, after a promising start to the campaign had hinted at a push for European qualification.
FA Cup victories over Southampton, Stoke and Tottenham have provided Palace with some respite from their league woes, and Pardew insists it would be a shame if his side let such groundwork slip.
“We have a chance of winning something and that doesn’t come around often,” said Pardew. “I don’t see why I wouldn’t play my strongest team, it’s the quarter-final of the FA Cup. That’s not entered my mind.
“We have a situation in the Premier League that is certainly causing us concerns. But this is a great opportunity for us.
“Games in this competition don’t reflect form in the league. It’s going to be a really tough game. We have made great progress but the recent form has stained us. We want to put it behind us.”
Pardew was a member of the Palace side that reached the FA Cup final in 1990 but lost 1-0 in a Wembley replay to Manchester United courtesy of a goal from full-back Lee Martin.
The 54-year-old also managed Reading for more than 200 games between 1999 and 2003 and admits he is braced for his usual indifferent welcome by the Royals’ supporters.
“I’ve never really had a great reception there, but that’s understandable given I how left,” added Pardew. “The fans were always brilliant when I was there and that’s all I could ask for. The reception is in their hands.”
Striker Marouane Chamakh will be unavailable for Palace’s FA Cup tie after Pardew confirmed that the former Arsenal forward had suffered an abductor injury during a reserve team game.