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Palace preview

You look at a lot of sides or managers who are aiming for grander things in the long run, and it is often the Carling Cup that has been the first stepping stone on that journey.

Whilst the nature of cup competition are a little difficult to predict, this competition is the one that looks most likely to yield a trophy during 2009/10.

2008/09 saw a pair of ignominous defeats in the domestic cups, both at Brighton and at home to Forest, and an early defeat tonight would be a huge blow.

You do sense a different mood in the club at present this season though (something Hughes was talking about yesterday) and despite a winnable game in the league at the weekend, Hughes will very much be focusing on this game.

Palace are in a bit of a mess this season, and have had a shaky start so far. Usually an outside bet for promotion, they do look to be a way off that from the evidence so far.

With the same side bar Tevez for Bellamy having played both games so far, Hughes may well be keen to bring in some of those players who have been left kicking thei heels on the bench.

That said, there won't be a full side being replaced, but you would expect Zabaleta, Onouha, de Jong, Petrov and Weiss to start tonight.

Still a strong line up of course, and given the side shouldn't lack for focus, a comfortable enough win should be on the cards.

2-0 looks good for me.