Boothroyd expecting fiery contest at lowly Palace

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The Independent Football

Watford's manager Adrian Boothroyd expects struggling Crystal Palace to come at his side "all guns blazing" when the sides meet at Selhurst Park tonight.

Bristol City cut the Hornets' lead at the summit of the Championship to three points with yesterday's 1-0 victory over Stoke City and Boothroyd accepts that it will not be an easy task to extend that to six points.

Palace are now under the stewardship of the former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock, a man who steered the Blades out of the division and into the top flight two seasons ago.

Accordingly, Boothroyd is expecting an exciting match, regardless of the Eagles' disappointing league position of 22nd.

Boothroyd, who guided his side to a 3-0 play-off semi-final win when the sides last met at the same ground, said: "I'm expecting them to come out all guns blazing. They are a team who start very well and they have got some very, very good players. We know we are in for a very tough game."

Boothroyd could recall experienced goalkeeper Mart Poom, who is approaching match fitness after missing the last three games with a back problem, but stand-in Richard Lee has conceded just once in that time and is furthering his own claims.

Warnock has Tom Soares suspended and Ben Watson doubtful while Manchester City's on-loan striker Paul Dickov should feature. Warnock has hinted that some of his players may not have too many more chances to impress before he drafts in new faces to freshen up the squad.

"I've said I'd like to give them four or five games but I might not be that patient," Warnock said. "I have to believe in myself that I can change and bring the players here that I think can help and I know the type I'm looking for."