Pulis hails Puncheon potential
Jason Puncheon can be as good as he wants to be but must improve his consistency if he wants to be a top player, according to Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis.
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The 27-year-old hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in January after an embarrassing penalty miss against Tottenham but he bounced back, scoring twice in his next three matches.
The winger's five goals in 14 games this year, including a brace against Cardiff last Saturday, have helped the Eagles move seven points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation places.
Pulis believes Puncheon has the talent to go far in the game but has told the former Southampton player he needs to produce the goods on a more regular basis.
"Puncheon could be anything he wanted to be," Pulis said.
"Jason has the tools to be a top player but he's been very, very inconsistent over his career - good players are not that inconsistent.
"It's a lack of concentration as much as anything else. For him to be a really good player he has to do this week after week after week and we've spoken to him about that."
Puncheon has played for nine different clubs in his professional career and has been sent out on seven loan spells.
He signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with Palace when he made a loan deal from Southampton permanent in January and Pulis believes he's settled at Selhurst Park.
"He's had more clubs than I've got in my golf bag hasn't he?" Pulis said.
"He's happy at the moment and we just hope and pray he continues this form until the end of the season."
At the heart of Palace's revival since Pulis took over in November has been a strong team ethic and a mean defence.
While the likes of Puncheon, Mile Jedinak and Julian Speroni have all caught the eye on the pitch, Pulis stressed the vital role of his senior players in promoting such a strong collective spirit.
"Those people around the fringes have been absolutely outstanding from their attitude in training to their attitude to the team on a Saturday," Pulis said.
"We've got good characters. They're senior pros and they've helped enormously - they've certainly helped me in respect of keeping everybody together and keeping the group focused."
Pulis added: "After the Cardiff game everybody was in the dressing room, it was great to see and they must be hurting because they want to play.
"Their attitudes have been fantastic though and I think that's been a big, big factor in what we've done so far."
Palace play Villa on Saturday, knowing a win would take them to 37 points and within touching distance of Premier League survival.
However with difficult fixtures at Everton, West Ham, Manchester City and Liverpool to follow, there is no room for complacency.
After the 3-0 win at Cardiff last Saturday, Pulis let the celebrations in the dressing room die down before reminding his players of the need for focus in their six remaining matches.
"You just worry to death about getting over that line," he said.
"I never let up. I think that's the most important thing, it's been six years I've been doing this now in the Premier League and you realise it changes so quickly.
"As soon as you take your foot off the pedal or start getting carried away with things it turns around very quickly and kicks you up the backside and we don't need that."
Palace go into Saturday's home match against Villa having taken 19 points from a possible 30 at Selhurst Park since Pulis took over.
"We've got great backing," he said.
"The attitude towards the team and everything that's going on in this place is first class, absolutely first class, and the fans have been a big factor in what we've achieved."