Crystal Palace have the potential to challenge any team outside the top four in the English Premier League next season if they can stay largely injury free, manager Alan Pardew said on Sunday.
“We can compete with any team below the tier of the top four when we have our full team available,” he said at the end of a brief trip to South Africa to compete in a four-team tournament.
“The important thing for us is how our injury record is going to maintain because last season we had hardly any injuries to our key players.
“If we keep our key players fit that’s going to be essential for us and we can compete against anyone below the top four when we have out full team,” Pardew told Reuters.
“What we are trying to do now is strengthen our squad so that the players that come in do not weaken us. That is the direction our recruitment is going to take.”
Pardew, whose recent signings have been described as ‘savvy’ in the English media, still wants to add a couple more players.
“It’s always difficult (at this stage) to bring in players and it will be a bit more of a struggle but we want a couple more,” he said.
New recruits Yohan Cabaye, Patrick Bamford and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy were all used as Palace lost 2-0 to Sporting Lisbon in Sunday’s final of the Cape Town Cup.
Pardew said he was delighted with the intensity of the competition against the Portuguese club despite the defeat to two second-half goals from Colombian international Freddy Montero.
“I was so pleased with the match except the result, it was just want we wanted at this stage of the season,” Pardew said.
“It was of the same quality as a Europa League game and that’s what you want so close to the start of the new season.”
Pardew’s arrival at Palace after a shaky start to last season lifted them out of a potential relegation fight into a top-10 finish.