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 By Jim Daly

Palace's Pardew and Jedinak deserve end of season award consideration

Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew says he hopes his players 'respond' to the Eagles fans who have been offered free coach travel to Stoke City for Saturday's Premier League game.

We're approaching that part of the season when the awards start to get polished, the tuxedos get ordered and the champagne gets put on ice, but will there be be any Palace staff celebrating? In a word, no. Despite impressing plenty and looking like they'll finish way higher than preseason expectations, out-performing plenty of bigger teams, there won't be any awards for Eagles players or managers come May.

The best chance the club has of being represented at a glitzy award ceremony is manager Alan Pardew, who has seen his odds drop of being crowned LMA Manager of the Season, an award he won back in 2012 when he led Newcastle to a fifth-place finish.

The odds of a repeat are very, very long, but there is a chance he could lead the Eagles to a top-half finish. Given the size of the club and that it's only once ever finished higher in the top flight in a 110-year history, that would be as big an achievement as taking Newcastle to fifth.

Even finishing in 11th -- the position they currently hold with eight games to go -- would be huge, especially given that teams who do well after getting promoted to the Premier League often struggle in their second season. But if Pardew can secure a similar or better position -- Palace finished 11th last season, remember -- it would signal real progression at Selhurst Park.

Despite that, he won't win LMA Manager of the Year -- or Premier League Manager of the Season, which is a different award that is also handed out and one that last season's Eagles boss Tony Pulis was awarded -- and probably shouldn't. Palace were a mess when Pulis turned the season around last year, but this campaign they are a better, stronger force and Pardew has simply done what he would have expected to do.

He has undoubtedly done better than Neil Warnock, who was sacked in December, but this is a different Palace to last season's; there are better players, there is more Premier League experience in the team and there is a more confident, bullish attitude around the club. That wasn't there last season, but now Palace are seen almost as an established Premier League side already.

But when it comes to the player awards for this season, there isn't an Eagle in sight. Maybe that shouldn't be a surprise given that Palace haven't had an impact at either end of the table; they aren't challenging for the title and they are no longer in a relegation fight.

Mile Jedinak may not have the gaudy numbers of some of the favourites for player of the year awards, stats websites suggest he's among the Premier League's best.

It seems that to be in the running for an award, players have to be doing one or the other; there are odds on QPR and Burnley strikers Charlie Austin and Danny Ings for Player of the Year while Chelsea stars Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas lead the way.

But what about a Palace player who, for the past two seasons, has been regularly one of the top performers in the Premier League? Not one bookmaker has odds on Palace captain Mile Jedinak winning Player of the Year, despite another impressive season for the big Aussie.

According to WhoScored.com, Jedinak has averaged the most interceptions per game of any player in the top flight this season at 3.7 and has the fifth highest average rating. That puts him higher than Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and David Silva and Spurs star Harry Kane.

In fact, all the other players in the top 10 are from Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester City. It's hugely impressive for Jedinak to be up there, and a big feather in the cap for a team like Palace. So why isn't he in the running for Player of the Season?

Possibly because he has blotted his own reputation twice this season with silly red cards; one against Sunderland for kicking out and one retrospectively awarded for a dangerous elbow thrown at West Ham's Diafra Sakho. And possibly purely because Palace aren't a sexy, big club, although they are certainly working very hard to improve their reputation on and off the pitch.

It's hard to ignore the stats, and while Hazard, Fabregas and Kane will no doubt be donning their tuxes at the end of the season, Jedinak will probably have to make do with a takeaway and a movie while the rest are at the swanky Player of the Year awards.

Jedinak shouldn't win, of course, but he deserves to at least be in the running for helping as much as Pardew has to drag Palace away from the bottom. If he and Pardew get nods in the awards it will be another huge step forward for the club as they make yet more strides toward being an established Premier League side.

Jim Daly is a freelance football writer and founder of Palace fanzine Five Year Plan. You can follow him on Twitter @jimdalycomedy.

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