Crystal Palace 1 Aston Villa 0: Tony Pulis hails impact of Jason Puncheon after firing Eagles to safety

Puncheon has scored three goals in two matches to fire Palace up the table and effectively to Premier League safety

Jason Puncheon's goal-scoring run has galvanised Crystal Palace's drive for Barclays Premier League safety, according to Tony Pulis.

Palace boss Pulis hailed Puncheon's three goals in two games that has helped the Eagles pull clear of the relegation scrap.

The 27-year-old was embroiled in a Twitter feud with Neil Warnock after his horror-show penalty miss in 2-0 league defeat at Tottenham on January 11.

The former Southampton midfielder struck back immediately with two goals in the following three games in vital wins over Stoke and Hull.

Puncheon backed up his brace in 3-0 victory over Cardiff with another goal in Saturday's 1-0 home victory over Aston Villa.

 

Manager Pulis hailed his strength of character to shrug off the detractors and hit top form.

"It's been lovely to see him scoring goals, how he's taking them with aplomb, it's some good goals he's scored," said Pulis.

"I think the big thing in life is you know you're always going to get knocks, you're always going to be asked questions of, especially as a sportsman.

"When you get those knocks and things going against you, that's when you show your real character, and it's very, very easy to fall within yourself and not come out of yourself, to show you have got that character.

"So it was important for Jason to bounce back, and there's only one person who could do it, irrespective of what I do or don't say, Jason had to do it.

"And he's certainly stepped up to the mark, he's responded well.

"I get annoyed when players don't show the belief they should in themselves.

"I think the biggest thing in life is exactly that: believe, and you can achieve, you can achieve and you can achieve.

"People get told all the time they can't, and then they start to believe that, when actually they should be trying to prove people wrong.

"So it's nice to get players to respond, but I'm no different from any manager, you try to get the best you possibly can from your players."

Palace take on Everton in Merseyside on Wednesday night, with Pulis relishing the trip to "old-fashioned" Goodison Park.

Pulis' revitalised men are yet to host title-chasers Liverpool and Manchester City as the Premier League finale hurtles on apace.

Former Stoke boss Pulis has rejected any interest in Palace playing a kingmaker role in the title race however, preferring to focus on guiding his side to Premier League safety.

"It's as exciting a season in the Premier League as there has been for years," said Pulis.

"That goes for a lot of the clubs trying to get over the line to stay in the league for next season, and for those clubs trying to win the league.

"For Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool, it's extremely exciting.

"We play Man City and Liverpool at home but our focus is not worrying about whether we stop them from doing anything our focus is making sure we cross the line.

"I'm just thinking Everton, and how we can get up there and try to take points.

"I don't care [who wins the league] as long as we stay up."

In-form goalkeeper Julian Speroni heads a six-strong cast of Palace players out of contract at the end of the campaign.

Pulis reiterated his desire to wait until Palace secure their Premier League status before chasing new deals for existing stars, and he admitted it will take even longer to snare new recruits.

"You talk about Julian but there's five or six players whose contracts are up at the end of the season," said Pulis.

"And they won't be decided until we can act on where we will be next season, and that's been the case since Christmas.

"From my experience if there are players available, they will take their time.

"We'll be fishing from the back-end of the table, not the front-end, so those players will take their time and work their way down the table before they get to us.

"They will go through probably 20 clubs before they get to us.

"So we've got to consolidate what position we're in to ensure we've got the right bait to catch them."

PA

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