NEWCASTLE United have been warned to underestimate Crystal Palace at their peril.
Alan Pardew takes his sixth-placed Magpies to his former Selhurst Park stomping ground tomorrow, with Palace on the up under new boss Tony Pulis.
Palace’s ex-Newcastle defender Peter Ramage, on a season-long loan at Barnsley, believes it will be a close encounter.
“I’ll get splinters in my backside as people are asking about the game, and I’m sitting on the fence!” Ramage said.
“But I think it’s a tough game for both teams. Obviously, Newcastle are riding high, and Palace need the points.
“It should be a good game. If I wasn’t playing, I’d be itching to watch it.”
Boyhood United fan Ramage helped Palace win promotion to the top flight last season, and he says the backing they got at Selhurst Park was all-important.
“We made Selhurst Park a fortress last season,” said the 30-year-old. “It’s a wonderful place to play as a Palace player, but a very hard place for the opposition to go and play.
“They like their football. It’s a passionate crowd. They can be the proverbial 12th man.
“Tony Pulis has stressed the importance of getting the crowd behind the team.
“They’re an exuberant bunch when they get going. The team are starting to get results on the pitch.
“Hopefully, they can win a few more games. The team hasn’t been getting outplayed and outfought in recent weeks.”
In an ideal world for Ramage, Palace will stay up while Newcastle will qualify for European football.
Ramage – who came up through the ranks at United before reluctantly leaving St James’s Park in search of first-team football in 2008 – watched the recent home win over Norwich City.
“It was the first time I’d seen Newcastle as a fan for some years, and I was really impressed,” he said.
“They’re a really good outfit. Hopefully, they can carry on.”